Nanotechnology Institute, Day 4

Completed Solar Cells

Day 4 of the Nanotechnology Institute started with the group learning about solar cells from Professor D. Venkataraman.  It was interesting learning exactly how solar cells work, and the different work being conducted on different solar cell materials.  It was also great to learn about the current solar cell research that is being conducted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Making the solar cell

The second item we did was build our own solar cells.  This activity was quite fun, and turned into a competition for us teachers, aiming to get the highest output. I can see this activity being very useful in the classroom.

We then went through the impacts that nanotechnology can have on society.  I am very interested in the nanomedicine category, and show a clip on a cancer drug based on nanotechnology.  We also ran some experiments with teflon- on a smooth surface water will bead and stick, on a sanded surface, it will flow off very quickly.

We then completed some labs with lithography and electrodeposition.  We were able to use zinc to plate copper.  It was interesting, and very applicable to physics and chemistry classes, but I can’t really see a use in my Biology Classroom.

Electrodeposition Set-up

We worked on posters for the rest of the day, to be shared tomorrow about our academic plans for the year.   


Plating finished product

UMass Nanotechnology Institute, Day 1


Our diffusion experiment, as of 4 pm on Monday

Today started Day 1 of the UMass Nanotechnology Institute 2013, a partnership between UMassK12 and the UMass Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing.  This program started off with introductions, and an overview of Nanotechnology by Dr. Mark Tuominen and Dr. Jonathan Rothstein.  Part of the powerpoint talked about Lithography, a process that I completed last summer working with BUSat.

We then talked about Nanoscale thin films, and used oleic acid to replicate an experiment that Benjamin Franklin completed.  It was very interesting to learn that Franklin had realized the oil spreads out to a very thin layer, and our calculations put this layer at around 1 nanometer thick.

After lunch, we started a gelatin diffusion laboratory, this time using plain gelatin and food coloring.  Each day, we will be taking pictures and measuring the amount of diffusion into this gelatin, from the food coloring that is diffusing into the gelatin.  This is a lab that Jennifer Wellborn runs at Amherst Middle School.

We then talked about growing crystals.  Rob Snyder gave us a supersaturated solution of sodium chloride (NaCl), of which he asked us to make crystals. Specifically, we were asked about self assembly of ionic crystals. We will be measuring these crystals later in the week. 

We ended the day by talking about powers of 10, and using USB microscopes and other lab utilities to measure different materials.  The USB microscopes were awesome, and something that I wish I had access to in my classroom.  We then reflected about the day in our subject groups, and talked about what would be useful in our classrooms.

As a bonus, we went to the Hanger to eat wings as a group after the day’s activities!