Nano Day:Think big and think small

This Saturday, March 31, the library will host Nano Day, organized by the Princeton Center for Complex Materials (PCCM) at Princeton University to engage the public in nanoscale activities to spark interest in this fascinating science. Combining fun hands-on activities with presentations on current research, the young and curious of all ages can explore the miniscule world of atoms, molecules, and nanoscale forces. It runs from 1-4 p.m. in the Community Room.

NanoDays is organized by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), and takes place nationally from March 24 – April 1, 2012. This community-based event is the largest public outreach effort in nanoscale informal science education and involves science museums, research centers, and universities from Puerto Rico to Alaska. NISE is an organization of science centers and museums from around the country working with university researchers and funded by the National Science Foundation to teach interested members of the public nano science and nano technology.

First, think about nanoscience in the big picture. At the nanoscale— a nano is the scale of atoms and molecules—many common materials exhibit unusual properties. Nanotechnology is revolutionizing research and development in medicine, computing, new materials, food, energy, and other areas, as developments in the ability to manipulate matter at this size enables innovations that weren’t possible before. Here’s a short video introduction: “Nanotechnology: What’s the Big Deal?”

So, get ready to think really small too. “A nano-meter is a billionth of a meter, about the size of an atom, and that is the scale at which researchers are now able to manipulate new materials which will create the technologies for the 21st century,” says  Daniel Steinberg, Education and Outreach Director for the PCCM and organizer of this event. “Much of what is coming to improvements in technology, including many solutions to environmental problems and the energy crisis, will be solved by nanoscience and engineering at the nanoscale. It’s important to know the potential of this technology, because it is so exciting and will change our lives for the better, but there are, as there is with any new technologies, risks associated, so it important to understand what they are.”

NanoDays events combine fun hands-on activities with presentations on current research. A range of exciting NanoDays programs demonstrate the special and unexpected properties found at the nanoscale, examine tools used by nanoscientists, showcase nano materials with spectacular promise, and invite discussion of technology and society. The local community can experience many of these activities firsthand. Visitors will make some of their own nanomaterials using scotch-tape, investigate super thin materials used in solar cell technology, and change the color of a butterfly’s wings! Other activities include an I Spy Nano game and real nano gold.

And to help us all explore and understand a bit more about nanoscience, PCCM is proud to bring its highly esteemed materials scientists from Princeton University to educate the public on the great rewards materials and Nano science research can provide to this event on March 31st. Presenting from Princeton’s Chemical and Biological Engineering department is world-class polymer scientist Professor Rick Register and expert polymer and materials computer simulations Professor Thanos Panagiotopoulos.  Also from ChemBio, Professor Rod Priestley will engage visitors with a nano-presentation, drawing from his expertise in nano-confined polymers. Leaders from the Electrical Engineering department will present, as well, with semiconductor and materials scientist Professor Antoine Kahn and semiconductor physics specialist Professor Mansour Shayegan. 

PCCM is pleased to have enlisted these and other highly valued members of the materials science community and the library is thrilled to host this one-day event and wrap up a fantastic month this March of super science-based events at the Princeton Public Library. 

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