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NSF NUE Program

A mm-scale self-assembled sphere of 1 µm latex microspheres under illumination by white light.

Bottom-Up Meets Top-Down – An Integrated Undergraduate Nanotechnology Laboratory

NC State’s National Science Foundation Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) Project features a new and innovative laboratory course designed for undergraduate students from a variety of engineering disciplines. The grant was awarded in 2010 to an interdisciplinary team including Dr. Yong Zhu (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Dr. Joe Tracy (Materials Science and Engineering), Dr. Jingyan Dong (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Dr. Xiaoning Jiang (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), and Dr. Gail Jones (Science Education).

The Goal of this new course is to provide undergraduate students with hands-on experiences in nanoscale science and engineering. The novel approach used in the course involves an integration of nanotechnology with microsystem technology, i.e., bottom-up meeting top-down. The course bridges the “pillars” of nanotechnology – nanomaterials, nanofabrication, nanoscale characterization and nanodevices.

The laboratory course will have an emphasis on size-dependent properties at the nanoscale, which is critical as new properties enable new applications. In addition to the new lab course, selected lab modules will be integrated to existing nanotechnology courses on campus. The course will use a problem-based, active learning approach. One of our goals is to encourage students to pursue graduate study related to nanotechnology and to train a workforce for the emerging nanotechnology industry.

The Objectives of the NUE grant are for students to:

Nanotechnology photo

The lab topics cover: 1) Nanoscale building blocks including nanoparticles and nanowires, 2) Nanofabrication: top-down and bottom-up approaches, and self-assembly, 3) Characterization: structural, optical, electrical, and mechanical properties, 4) Applications: energy harvesting, biosensing, and 5) Instrumentation: CVD, Raman, AFM, SEM, TEM, UV-vis spectroscopy, and more.

With assistance from our partner, Dr. Gail Jones, a professor who specializes in nanotechnology education, we are researching how taking a nanotechnology laboratory course influences students knowledge, skills, and attitudes about this exciting new technological field.  Students will showcase course products through presentations at NanoDays and area schools.

For more information on this program, please contact Dr. Yong Zhu, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.


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