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Continuing Education

High School Teachers Short Course and Industry Course in Nanotechnology


Even though NSF has discontinued its support of the Chautauqua Faculty Development Short Course program, we continue to develop high school chemistry teaching modules in partnership with high school teachers and students, that are being implemented in high school chemistry laboratory courses. Each summer, two high school teachers and two students spend six weeks in the NSEC at Rensselaer, working in Professor Ryu’s laboratory and developing teaching modules. The module concept was piloted in Niskayuna High School’s AP Chemistry course, with an emphasis on creating a hands-on module and developing an appreciation for the nanoscale. The faculty took advantage of an existing “silver mirror laboratory” and enhanced it for this module. In their experiment, the students use self-assembled monolayers (SAM) to change the silver mirror surface into a Teflonlike one. In addition, this experiment enhances their understanding of the fundamental concepts of “hydrophobicity” and “hydrophilicity” as surface properties. The teachers and students also performed microscopy and atomic force microscope (AFM) experiments to investigate the nanoscale surface structures of mica, floppy disks, a nanoporous membrane, and particles. The microscopy surface images are used as lecture material to improve the student’s understanding of material structures at the nanoscale. The teachers assess student learning and continue to provide us with feedback each semester.


Texbook on Nanocomposite Science and Technology


In 2003, Professors Ajayan, Braun, and Schadler published Nanocomposite Science and Technology, (Wiley-VCH-Verlag, Weinham, 2003). This reference textbook for non-experts provides a general background and review of the underlying science of nanocomposites, as well as the motivation behind the design of these structures, particularly from the perspective of future applications. The first chapter describes nanocomposites based on inorganic materials, such as metals and ceramics, and applications. Polymer-based and polymer-filled nanocomposites are then discussed with an emphasis on interface engineering for optimum performance. Naturally occurring systems of nanocomposites and their lessons for engineering are then explored before a final chapter on nanocomposite modeling. The first printing of "Nanocomposite Science and Technology" sold out and Wiley-VCH completed a second printing in 2005.