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Nanotechnology Nanotechnology An Introduction


Nanotechnology Nanotechnology An Introduction

More Info
                            An Introduction
                                             26 minutes

Program Synopsis:
This program begins with an explanation of nanotechnology, and then demonstrates micrometres and nanometres.
Viewers will also examine the special properties of nanoparticles, the gecko effect, carbon nanotubes, surface
energy; hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces as well as the lotus effect. Sections on the use of lasers in
nanotechnology and issues raised by nanotechnology complete the program. DVD separately features short
interviews on various aspects of nanotechnology.

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                                                                            An Introduction

The main program is presented in clear-cut sections. The DVD can be stopped at any point,
for discussion and questions. Alternatively, the entire program can be viewed without break,
with questions at the end.

The worksheet questions are presented in the same order as the topics are dealt with in the
program. They vary in complexity from straightforward points of fact to questions where the
response requires application and synthesis.

Program Overview
Suitable for middle and senior secondary levels.

•   What is nanotechnology?
•   Units: micrometre and nanometre
•   Special properties of nanoparticles
•   The gecko effect
•   Carbon nanotubes
•   Surface energy; hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces
•   The lotus effect
•   Use of lasers in nanotechnology
•   Issues raised by nanotechnology


Short interviews (student enrichment/ background for teachers):

•   How microscopes ‘kick-started’ nanotechnology
•   What is nanotechnology?
•   Electron and atomic force microscopes
•   Tissue engineering I
•   Tissue engineering II
•   Chemical analysis at the nanoscale
•   A future career in nanotechnology

                                                                             An Introduction

Useful Resources
Comprehensive US site funded by the National Science Foundation.
User-friendly interactive animation showing units and a variety of objects in the micro and
nanoscale ranges.
Articles and many links.
In-depth discussion of health, safety, environmental and social issues. Produced by the UK’s
Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Animation showing one way that nanocoatings can be applied to surfaces.
For the interested student. Fascinating background on research techniques and current areas
of study from the French Centre for Material Elaboration & Structural Studies.

One of the many sites with a transcript of physicist Richard Feynman’s classic talk Plenty of
Room at the Bottom. He gave it way back in 1959!
Useful New scientist report on nanotechnology.

                                                                           An Introduction

                                 Program Worksheet
                                   Before the Program
The DVD does not necessarily need an introduction, but useful activities before showing the
DVD could include:

1. Discuss with students what they know about nanotechnology:
   • What are some ‘nano’ words? (Eg nanopod, nanosecond, nanometre).
   • What kinds of nanotechnology have students heard about? (e.g. components in
     integrated circuits, transparent zinc cream)

2. Discuss units
   • How many millimetres in a metre?
   • Roughly how wide is a human hair? (varies around 0.1 mm)
   • What is a micrometre? How many micrometres in a millimetre?
   • What is a nanometre? How many nanometres in a millimetre?

3. Devices seem to keep getting smaller: why is this? What are some advantages of

4. Have any of your students read the novel Prey by Michael Crichton? What is it about?
   How realistic is it?
   (The 2003 novel has nanotechnology converging with genetic engineering to produce
   nanoparticles, which turn into a deadly self-replicating nano-swarm.)

                                                                           An Introduction

                                   During the Program

1. What is special about the work of nanotechnologists?

2. What would be the difference between a nanotechnologist and a nanoscientist?

3. What is the advantage of Gore-Tex over traditional waterproof garments?

4. Explain how Gore-Tex fabric works.

5. Why would some people say that Gore-Tex is not true nanotechnology?

6. How many micrometres are there in a millimetre?

7. The older name for micrometre is micron. If a human red blood cell is six microns in
   diameter, how would you write that in millimetres?

   6 microns = ________________________millimetres

8. How many nanometres are there in a micrometre?

                                                                        An Introduction

9. If your fingernail grows at the rate of around 0.06 micrometres per minute, how many
   nanometres does it grow in a minute? In a second?

10. How many water molecules would fit along a one-nanometre line?

                                                                              An Introduction


1. Why are sunscreens now being produced containing zinc oxide nanoparticles (traditional
   sunscreens contain larger zinc oxide particles)?

2. How does the appearance of gold nanoparticles change as their size changes?

3. Gold nanoparticles have been used for many years in churches. How have they been

4. More recently, gold nanoparticles have been used in a variety of bio-test kits.
   For each kind of test, a particular antibody is attached to the nanoparticles.
   How does the test work?

5. As an object gets smaller, what happens to the amount of surface compared to the
   volume of the object?

6. What special feature of a gecko’s feet help it to cling to surfaces?

7. What are dispersion forces (also called van der Waals forces)?

8. Why are dispersion forces so effective on geckos’ feet?

                                                                                An Introduction

9. Nanotechnologists are using the ‘gecko effect’ to developing adhesive ‘gecko tape’. What
   would be some advantages (compare it to Velcro, traditional ‘sticky-tapes’ and glues)?

10. Nanofibre cloth has a very large surface area. What are some possible applications that
    could improve our environment?



11. What is the advantage of using catalyst materials in nanoparticle form?

12. What is a graphene sheet?

13. What is a carbon nanotube? Approximately how wide is it?

14. Fibreglass is a traditional composite material. Carbon nanotubes are now being mixed
    with polymer resins to form composite materials. How does adding nanotubes affect the
    properties of the material?

15. What is a buckyball? What uses could buckyballs have?

                                                                              An Introduction

1. What is surface energy? How does surface energy explain the formation of a water

2. What is a hydrophilic surface?

3. What is a hydrophobic surface?

4. Is the surface of a waxy leaf hydrophilic or hydrophobic?

5. What benefit could a hydrophobic nanocoating have for a cotton garment?

6. Human stem cells grow better on hydrophilic than hydrophobic surfaces. How can
   nanotechnologists help stem cell researchers?

7. What is the ‘lotus effect’? How does it keep lotus leaves dry even when it rains?

8. How does the lotus effect also help to keep the leaves free of dirt and other debris?

9. Nanotechnologists are using the lotus effect to create ‘self-cleaning’ surfaces. What kind
   of products has this technique been applied to?

                                                                           An Introduction

1. Why are lasers so useful in micro and nanotechnology?

2. Lasers can also be used to reshape the surface of one of our body structures with great
   precision. What is this structure?

3. What does a ‘lab-on-a-chip’ contain that makes it different from an ordinary microscope
   slide (at least two features)?

4. What are some advantages that lab-on-a-chip testing has over traditional medical testing

5. Micro and Nanotechnology allow things to be made by ‘batch manufacturing’.
6. What does this mean?

7. What is the advantage of batch manufacturing over the traditional methods used to make
   things like cars, large plastic products etc.

                                           - 10 -
                                                                        An Introduction

1. What are some ways that nanotechnology could benefit the environment?

2. Some people are concerned about the creation of nanoparticles. What potential hazards
   could they present? What are some examples of small particles that have caused health
   problems past and present?

                                         - 11 -
                                                                               An Introduction

1. Some people are concerned that nanotechnology could lead to the end of traditional
   manufacturing and widespread loss of traditional jobs. Does this seem likely? Would it be
   a bad thing?

2. In what ways do you think nanotechnology could change your life?

‘At sea level, air molecules are so thick that one molecule can move only the tiniest distance –
about eight millionths of a centimetre, to be precise – before banging into another.’
                                              Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

How many nanometres is that distance?

                                             - 12 -

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