Nanotechnology is the science and technology of building materials and devices from single atoms and molecules.
Imagine you could rearrange atoms to build new structures that are a billionth of the size of a meter. That is exactly what nanoscale scientists are doing and new branches of interdisciplinary sciences are emerging. Nanotechnology is emerging as one of the most rapidly growing areas of science and crosses the domains of science with applications in biology, physics, materials science, chemistry, and earth science. New tools such as the atomic force microscope allow scientists to do manipulations at the smallest of scales—the nanometer.
How big is a nanometer?
Nanotechnology works with materials that are a billionth of the size of a meter (10 -9 meters). That is small--very, very small. Things like bacteria and cells are too large for nanoscale science but viruses, atoms, and molecules are typically nanometer sized. At the nanometer scale materials behave very differently. Click here to explore scale and scaling effects further.
Middle and High School Students Investigate Nanotechnology
With support from the National Science Foundation students are conducting nanoscale experiments along side of scientists. Since 1999, educators and scientists from NCSU and UNC-CH have been working with teachers and students to learn about nanoscale science, nanotechnology, and viruses.
Research on Learning Nanoscale Science
With support from the National Science Foundation, the NanoScale Science Education Research Group has been investigating how students learn about nanotechnology and nanoscale science. This research includes studies of elementary, middle, high school, undergraduate and graduate students. Specific studies have examined:
How students learn to use Atomic Force Microscopy.
Students' understanding of nanometer scale.
The impact of scientists on students' perceptions of scientists, science careers, and the nature of science.
Gender differences in students' attitudes toward nanoscale investigations.
African American students' perceptions of nanoscale inquiry.
Differences in live and simulated nanoscale experimentation.
The impact of tactile feedback on students' understandings of nanoscale objects.
How different tactile technologies impact students' concepts of nanoscale objects.