../Morning Post
Posted October 16 , 2009
Exploring Nano

Nano@Guelph 2009 Reveals Small Wonders to High School Students

Guelph - Think "nano" is strictly about your iPod music player? Think again. A series of events at the University of Guelph this month will allow people to see and learn what nanoscience is all about.

The nano-themed events are taking place during National Science and Technology Week Oct. 16 to 24. They will promote Guelph's nanoscience program on campus and off, including lab tours for high school students and an outreach event planned for the Waterloo Regional Children's Museum.

Some 250 high school classes will visit Guelph’s nanoscience teaching labs from Oct. 20 to 23 as part of Nano@Guelph 2009. They are expected to learn about U of G's program, view the University's teaching facilities and equipment and make a solar cell.

The event is intended to raise awareness of nanoscience and the Guelph nanoscience degree program, which was launched in 2008, said Bonnie Lasby, recruitment officer for the College of Physical and Engineering Science.

Nanoscience involves developing materials on the scale of individual atoms and molecules, typically less than 100 nanometres in size, for potential uses in electronics and computing, medicine, materials, fuel cells and other fields.

Guelph is the only Canadian university to offer a full nanoscience major. Courses cover such topics as synthesis and analysis of nanomaterials, thin film science, nanolithography, quantum chemistry and computing, and biological nanomaterials.

Other universities offer nanoscience courses within other programs or focus on nanotechnology engineering.

Guelph’s interdisciplinary degree draws on research and teaching mostly from physics and chemistry. Referring to the integrated nature of nanoscience, Lasby said. "It's not a discipline, it's a size range. All science disciplines meet at the nano scale."

The nanoscience teaching labs are located on the second floor of the science complex. Specialized microscopes and other equipment allow students to handle and view minuscule samples to determine size and structure of various particles.

Undergraduates can make nano-sized crystals and nano-wires akin to structures being studied for use in fuel cells. Although these instruments are common in research labs, few universities provide them for undergrad studies.

On Oct. 18, Guelph will collaborate with the University of Waterloo on nanoscience displays and demonstrations for youngsters at the Waterloo Regional Children's Museum. Lasby said nanoscience offers plenty of demonstration opportunities, including ferro-fluids that look like oil but behave like magnets. Another attention-grabber is a shape memory alloy, or a wire made of nickel and titanium that can be deformed like a paper clip but that springs back into its original shape when heated.

Staff, faculty and students are invited to an open house Oct. 14 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in science complex 2109 and 2110. Tours will be led by lab co-ordinator Jay Leitch.

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