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National Science Foundation


Nanotechnology: Super Small Science

Nanotechnology Super Small Science

"Nanotechnology: Super Small Science" is a six-part series that shows viewers how atoms and molecules that are thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair can be used as building blocks to create future technology. The series features a dozen world class American researchers, including quantum physicist and National Medal of Science winner Paul Alivisatos.

Episode 1. Harnessing the Nanoscale

laser

Why is something only billionths of a meter in size so important? Dawn Bonnell at the University of Pennsylvania shows how the ability to control and manipulate material at this extremely small scale is having a big impact around the world in medicine, energy, and electronics.

View video (5:33 min.)

Episode 2. Powerful Solution

bottles with solutions in various colors

Paul Alivisatos' team at the University of California, Berkeley, is working to develop a new type of solar cell using nano-sized crystals called quantum dots. Quantum dots are already helping to produce brighter, more vivid color in displays. The ability of solar cells to efficiently process energy in the form of light also makes them an ideal solution to our energy problems.

View video (5:48 min.)

Episode 3. Nanoelectronics

integrated circuit board

You may have nanotechnology in your pocket and not even know it. Today's smartphones are much smaller than computers of the past, and yet significantly more powerful, thanks to nanotechnology. Tom Theis with the Semiconductor Research Corporation and IBM, and Ana Claudia Arias at the University of California, Berkeley, explain how nanotechnology has already changed our lives and the exciting possibilities for the future.

View video (6:02 min.)

Episode 4. Nanotech at the Surface

piece of material with film-like plastic surface

How could something only billionths of a meter thick defend against water, dirt, wear, and even bacteria? Working at the nanoscale, scientists and engineers, like Jay Guo of the University of Michigan, are creating protective nanoscale coatings and layers. These surfaces have applications in energy, electronics, medicine, and could even be used to make a plane invisible.

View video (5:13 min.)

Episode 5. Breaking The Rules

nanomaterial structure

Caltech's Julia Greer is proving that using big and heavy materials is not the only way to build strong, robust structures. Beginning at the nanoscale, her group is constructing materials that are more than 99 percent air yet strong and resilient. These new materials are breaking the rules by behaving in very unexpected ways.

View video (6:07 min.)

Episode 6. Nanosensors

sensors

Some of the biggest advances in medical technology may soon come from devices built on the nanoscale. Donglei Fan with the University of Texas at Austin, and Paula Hammond with Massachusetts Institute of Technology discuss how their use of nanotechnology may one day sense, diagnose, and even treat cancer.

View video (5:01 min.)

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