Physics



PHYS 095A ~ Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
CRN: 93505

Nanoscience is the science of understanding and manipulating matter at the scale of one-billionth of a meter, while nanotechnology will be the realization of useful devices and objects using nanoscale components. Starting with physicist Richard Feynman's famous 1959 lecture "There's plenty of room at the bottom," we will explore the development and current status of this emerging area. Quantum effects come into play at the nanoscale, leading to many new terms such as "quantum dot," "quantum well," and "quantum computer." Each of these terms refers to objects or devices that behave in ways that are out of our everyday experience. A number of stunning predictions have been made regarding what is possible through nanotechnology, and some futurists believe that it will revolutionize the production of virtually every human-made object in the next 20 to 30 years. On the other hand, there are also concerns about the potential safety of nanotech products. Some of these concerns are legitimate and others are highly exaggerated. The dystopian view is exemplified by Michael Crichton's 2002 novel Prey, in which swarms of nano-sized machines escape into the wild to become dangerous, self-replicating predators. We will discuss the science behind these predictions, concerns, and views.

Requirements Satisfied:  one non-lab Natural Science course
Meets: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:40am-11:30am
Contact: 802-656-0048, Rheadrick@uvm.edu

Randall Headrick: Associate Professor of Physics, is a researcher in the area of thin-film materials and nanomaterial. He is active in bringing science to the broader community by sponsoring K-12 science projects and by giving special lectures and demonstrations. A dedicated husband and dad, he enjoys running, biking, and other outdoor sports. He can frequently be found visiting book/coffee shops.