A nanite is a microscopic molecular machine, most often used to alter or manipulate the inside of living cells.
Nanites were responsible for the legendary healing properties of the Ilaiyen Archipelago. This nanotechnology had been given to the Ilaiyenai by extra-planetary explorers sometime prior to or during the 13th century. (TOS short story: "As Others See Us")
In 2366, Wesley Crusher experimented with nanites, causing them to evolve into sentience. After threatening the computer core of the USS Enterprise, these nanites were transported to planet Kavis Alpha IV to create their own civilization. (TNG episode: "Evolution") In the same year, Beverly Crusher suggested using nanites as a weapon against the Borg. (TNG episode: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
In 2369, Julian Bashir found similarities between nanites and the artificial microbes that resurrected the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis on a moon in the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9 episode: "Battle Lines") In that same year, Elias Vaughn and Ruriko Tenmei used trillions of nanites to find and unwrite the code of Cren Veruda's artificial intelligence, which the Borg had found at Uridi'si. (DS9 novel: Lesser Evil) The Doctor aboard USS Voyager was able to use nanites as a forensic tool to identify Frank Darwin's murderer as Lon Suder. (VOY episode: "Meld")
In the year 2370 during the invasion of the Heran |homeworld, the Klingon and Federation forces discovered their hand held energy weapons to be useless due to the Heran use of nanites. (TNG novel: Infiltrator)
In 2376, Simon Tarses used medical nanites to treat injuries that Ro Laren suffered after Taran'atar's attack. They were able to limit the genetronic matrix's activity at the molecular level and prevented accidental metastasization. (DS9 novel: Warpath)
Uses of the technology
Passive Recording Devices
In the Mirror Universe, the head of the Obsidian Order possessed among his equipment a miniature particle ejector which contained cylinders of microscopic nanites. The technology was created by the Obsidian Order's research and development team. At the time, Tain did not share any of the secrets of the technology within the rest of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance or even his own government.
The machine contained cyclinders which were programmable allowing them to set tasks within the thousands of nanites contained within them to serve as passive recording device. They were capable of being remotely triggered at a later time and once they were retrieved, it was possible to gain an entire day's worth of conversations from the machines as they worked together for redundancy. These nanites were capable of recording through tissue from inside the lungs or intestines of a living being with some being capable of clinging to a target's hair or clothes for a day or so. Once loaded into the ejector, it was a simple matter to implant the machine to the users lips. After which, a certain amount of pressure activated the nanites which blew towards the target thus recording everything relating to them.
The Borg Collective made use of nanites on their Diamond vessels as a method of disrupting enemy communication and computer systems. These nanites were injecting into an enemy ship where they begin to scramble the computer interface causing chaos among target vessels. (TNG video game: Armada)
- This served as a special ability among the Borg Diamond which, when used, caused the interface to move randomly across the screen making it difficult to issue commands to an infected unit.
The Heran Modality deployed nanites all over their homeworld of Hera which worked as a method of suppressing enemy ground weaponry. This worked by the nanites affecting the power linkages of the weapons making them useless in a battle on the planet thus forcing invaders to make use of simpler methods to combat the Heran defense forces. (TNG novel: Infiltrator)