Small things are a big deal at NanoDay@Penn

On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) will host its annual NanoDay@Penn, a public education and outreach event that will feature a series of talks, demonstrations, and exhibits concerning nanotechnology, a rapidly expanding scientific discipline that involves the manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular scale.

Enabling the creation of new materials as well as new techniques for shaping them, nanotechnology research branches into alternative energy, computer hardware, and a host of medical applications, including new drug delivery particles. As nanotechnology deals on length scales compatible with the most basic biological mechanisms, such as cellular receptors and even individual strands of DNA, researchers affiliated with the NBIC have a particular interest in combining these naturally occurring structures with artificial ones, like carbon nanotubes and graphene. Such hybrids could be used as sensitive chemical detectors or diagnostic devices.

With so much promise in the field, NanoDay aims to generate interest in the subject with the public and encourage budding young scientists to consider nanotechnology in their career paths. To that end, the schedule of events includes tours of labs—including Engineering’s new 3-D Printing Lab—for local high school students. The winners of the 2013 Delaware Valley Science Fair will also have an opportunity to present their nanotech-themed projects from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the lobby of Levine Hall. A public awards ceremony will be held in Levine’s Wu and Chen auditorium at 3 p.m.

Penn nanotechnology students will also be hosting a slate of interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and videos from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Towne Hall lobby.

NanoDay will culminate at 4 p.m. in the Singh Center’s Glandt Forum with a public award ceremony for outstanding graduate student research and a keynote address given by a luminary in the field.

This year’s keynote speaker and recipient of the Nano/Bio Interface Center’s Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology is Charles Marcus of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen. Marcus will discuss the “profound challenge of quantum information”—or the engineering problems that present themselves when dealing with the properties of subatomic particles that change when they are measured.

Afterwards, a reception will be held where nanotech students will present their own research.

NanoDay 2014