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Generation Nano: Presented by the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Generation Nano:
Small Science, Superheroes

About Generation Nano

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) are excited to continue Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes! This competition asks high school students to choose a societal area to focus on and then design nanotechnology-enabled gear for an original superhero.

Students can envision gear that is grounded in current research but not yet possible, allowing them to learn about the potentials and limitations of real-world nanotechnology. Students will first identify one societal mission from a list of four to address and then submit an entry with three parts: a written section, a short comic strip and a video.  

Amina Khan, National Science Foundation

How to Enter

To see if the Gen Nano competition is right for you, please thoroughly review our downloadable Participant Guide before attempting to submit an entry. You can also find important information on what a complete entry is like in the Entry Guidelines; learn how, where, and when to submit your entry and how it will be judged on the Process & Prizes page; and be sure to review the Rules & FAQ.  

First place winner of the "Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes" 2016 competition Eric Liu from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, stands next to a picture of "Nanoman," the character he created for the competition. Photo: Glorymar Rivera-Diaz, National Science Foundation

Generation Nano Resources

Learn about nanoscience and nanotechnology, and what nanoscale means on the Resources page. You can also find useful links on comic generation and free, non-copyrighted image and audio sources there.

Visit our Toolkit where you can download competition posters, postcards, and other materials.  

An artist's depiction of a bacterial cell engineered to produce amyloid nanofibers that incorporate particles such as quantum dots (seen here as red and green spheres) or gold nanoparticles. Image: Yan Liang (


Many inspiring superheroes have already come out of the Gen Nano competition. See the 2015-2016 Results including a video montage of the Awards Show. (The 2016-1017 semifinalists and finalists will also be found in the Results section.)

At the "Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes" competition awards ceremony held at the 2016 USA Science & Technology Festival, (left to right) second place and people's choice award winner Madeleine Chang from Bergen County Academies in New Jersey; first place winner Eric Liu from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Virginia; and third place winner Vuong Mai from Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts in Georgia strike a pose with actor Wil Wheaton, who announced the winners. Photo: Jessica Arriens, National Science Foundation

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Generation Nano Competition
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230 USA

Follow the competition #GenNano

Who: High-school students — individuals or teams of two to three

What: A written entry, 2–3 page comic strip and 90-second video introducing the hero and story • Explains importance and potential impact of societal mission • Describes nanotechnology usage

When: Competition opens October 5, 2016; submissions due by 11:59 p.m. EST, January 31, 2017.

Where: Learn more and submit your entry online at

Why: To promote early interest in nanoscale science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

More Questions? Contact the Generation Nano team at