I don’t know much about nanotechnology, some of the other engineers will be better to answer this than me. 🙂 But I reckon not that long. There are probably loads of applications already in our every day lives that we don’t know about.
Buckyballs, carbon nanostructures, have been found in space. Nano is literally all around us… many of the nanostructures we make for medical and energy purposes are really just mimics and imitations of nanostructures that we find in nature. For example, energy researchers are making better solar panels – solar panels that can absorb more sunlight – by making them with nanostructures that look like the nanostructures in a moth’s eye. These tiny structures prevent light from being ‘reflected’ from the surface, allowing moths to see in the dark and allowing for solar panels to ‘catch’ more sunlight!