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Nanotechnology. 14,100. 7,220,000. “It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.” y. a 1. a 2. x. SWNT. carbon allotropes.

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“It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.”






carbon allotropes

NSF-funded researchers Richard Smalley, Robert Curl (both of Rice University) and Harry Kroto (University of Sussex, UK; non-NSF funded) shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of "buckminsterfullerene." James Heath, then a graduate student at Rice and now a faculty member at UCLA, also played a key role.


single walled carbon nanotubes
Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Real timeNanotube length = 10 mm


Why is it so exciting?

  • Human Health
    • Gold nanoshells for cancer therapy
  • Environmental Health
    • Nanorust to clean drinking water

Live (green)/Dead (red) assays shows where immunotarged gold nanoshells and a near infrared laser destroyed prostate cancer cells

optical vs electron microscopy
Optical vs. Electron Microscopy

Radiolarian (amoeboid protozoa)

Optical microscopy image

Electron microscopy image

Why do electron beams give superior resolution to light rays?

Shorter wavelength!

timeline of microscopy
Timeline of Microscopy

c. 1625


SEM 1981

AFM 1986

stm manipulating atoms
STM: Manipulating Atoms

Iron atoms on Copper surface

scanning tunneling microscopy
Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

Nobel Laureates (1986) Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig


what is nanotechnology
What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the creation of functional materials, devices, and systems through control of matter on the nanometer length scale, exploiting novel phenomena and properties (physical, chemical, biological) present only at that length scale.

“If I were asked for an area of science and engineering that will most likely produce the breakthroughs of tomorrow, I would point to nanoscale science and engineering.”

Neal Lane

University Professor, Rice University

Former NSF Director

Assistant to President Clinton for Science and Technology


scanning electron microscopy
Scanning Electron Microscopy

transmission electron microscopy magnifies up to 50 million times hrtem
Transmission Electron Microscopy(magnifies up to 50 million times [HRTEM])

300 nm

CdSe quantum dot, Colvin

Trina Mandel and the TEM

Hollow colloidal ellipses, Colvin