Just a week after IBM (NYSE:IBM) unveiled two big breakthroughs in the field of nanotechnology, Big Blue has struck again. In the latest edition of Nature Nanotechnology, the company announced a new nanoscale "printing" technique, which IBM believes will enable breakthroughs in ultra-tiny computer chips, biosensors, and optics.

As a proof of concept, IBM researchers recreated Robert Fludd's famous 17th century drawing of the sun using only 20,000 gold nanoparticles -- each measuring only 60 nanometers in diameter. The period at the end of this sentence could hold dozens of copies of this nanoscale rendition.

Understandably, the ability to print something this small might not sound very newsworthy to the average Fool. But investors in IBM, or one of its competitors in the semiconductor or diagnostic industry, should definitely take note. The nanoprinting technique suggests that IBM might soon be able to place catalytic nanoparticles on a tiny template and grow semiconducting nanowires. If successful, that could lead to the next generation of super-small computer circuits, and send engineers at Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) scrambling to keep pace.

Similarly, the nanoprinting process might also allow biofunctional nanoparticles to be deposited directly onto biosensors. By radically increasing the number and type of nanoparticles that can be placed on these sensors, the technology might power new point-of-care diagnostic devices capable of rapidly screening for hundreds of diseases. That could leave companies such as Affymetrix (NASDAQ:AFFX) and Applera (NYSE:ABI) at a distinctive competitive disadvantage.

Lastly, because the technique will allow tiny nanoparticles -- some smaller than the wavelength of light -- to be printed on optoelectric devices, it might also find applications in a new generation of telecommunications components.

I've long been bullish on Big Blue's nanotechnology initiatives, and after reading the "fine print" about this latest nanotech advance, my confidence has been further confirmed.

Further big blue Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich owns stock in IBM. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.