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NUE 2003-2004



Course Announcement

Fundamentals of Nanoscale Science and Engineering - Spring 2004

Course Home

Course Information - Syllabus - Weeks 1-15

Updated March 2, 2004

John Jaszczak, Physics 102 Fisher (7-2255, jaszczak@mtu.edu)
Bruce Seely, Social Sciences 215 Acad. Off. Bldg (7-2113; bseely@mtu.edu)
Gerard Caneba, Chemical Engineering 202H Chem Sci (7-2051, caneba@mtu.edu)


This class is designed to be an introductory seminar on the topic of nanotechnology. It is one of Michigan Tech’s activities supported by a grant from the National Science foundation for undergraduate education in the nano field. Although assigned a 4000-series (upper division) number, the course will be oriented toward first and second year students, and all MTU students are welcome.

The class has a couple of general goals. First, we intend to examine three specific aspects of nanotechnology: (1) the basic science underlying the field; (2) aspects of engineering and scientific applications at the nanoscale; and (3) the societal implications of nanoscale science and engineering. In a one-credit course like this, we cannot explore any of these dimensions in great depth. But we intend to give you a working knowledge of the basics in each area. Second, we hope to familiarize students with the trends of current research in nanotechnology. We will supplement the information in the text in two ways. Several nationally-prominent scholars and researchers will visit the campus and deliver public lectures and presentations about their work. Most of these speakers also will meet with class members during regular meeting times, allowing special opportunities to interact with the speakers. In addition, a number of MTU faculty will deliver short presentations on their work. Third, we will ask students to explore a specific topic of their choosing, preparing a report that summarizes their findings.


Because this is a one-credit course, we have scaled the work load accordingly. The main expectations we have are that you will attend all class meetings and read the assigned text by Ratner and Ratner, Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Thing. Most weeks the reading involves one, or at most two, chapters. It is likely that we will identify other readings on occasion – mainly new articles – to accompany some of the course topics. We will try and make these available to you electronically or through the library’s electronic database facilities.

It is important that you complete the reading assigned for each class period, given our plans for the class meetings. This is a seminar, which means that students bear partial responsibility for the conduct of the class. We assume that in an elective class like this, you want to be here, and will accept that responsibility and come prepared and ready to participate. In practical terms, a seminar means we will spend part of each hour discussing the assigned reading. A significant part of the final course grade will rest on participation, determined by attendance at the class sessions or lectures and on actual contributions to class discussions.

We also expect each student to undertake a small research project to explore the state of the art in some area of nanoscience or nano-enginering. You choose the topic, clearing it with one of the faculty members involved (science topics with John Jaszczak, engineering topics with Gerry Caneba, implications topics with Bruce Seely). You may conduct joint (2-person) projects, although we strongly recommend individual efforts. We will provide a style sheet and complete project description once the course begins; we expect the paper to be 4-6 pages in length. Among the questions to think about in considering a topic are these: What is the state of the art in X area of nano research? What are the scientific or engineering challenges facing researchers in a given domain (biomedical engineering, computing, manufacturing, etc.)? What are the scientific implications of work at this scale for a given field of science and engineering? What tools are required to advance nanoscale work? We plan to arrange for project reports to be delivered poster session-style at the end of the term. The only other requirement will be that every project must include attention to the societal implications of the area under investigation. Full details will be distributed after the course is underway. The tentative completion date for the project is Week 13.

We will not give exams or quizzes, given the seminar style. We may, however, ask at intervals that students to prepare brief in-class papers, quick reaction assignments that will not be graded, and 2-3 short papers (1-2 pages). Short papers will be assigned in the first and last classes.


As mentioned, the main resource for the class is the Ratner and Ratner book. But important tools for the class include the Nano Education web site on the Physics home page: http://www.phy.mtu.edu/nue/index.htm . It contains general information, including materials about on-going nano activities at Michigan Tech. The STUDENT section of the page will include the syllabus and other information for this course, as well as updates about assignments, links to readings, and other materials of interest to the class. We’ll make sure you have the URL once the page is set up. We will maintain course email lists – you have already been notified about them. You can use these moderated lists to ask questions of the faculty, while we will use them for communications to the class.


Class Participation 40%
Research Project 40%
In-class, short papers 20%


The schedule shown below is subject to change during the course of the semester, as we make adjustments that fit the desires of the class and the schedules of the faculty and outside participants. The first five weeks are pretty well set, and the main outline of the remaining weeks should not change much. We will fill in the topics for a few of the later classes shortly and announce other adjustments in advance. Watch the web site for changes and additions.

Week 1 (1/12)
Course Introduction: Discuss Ratner, chap. 1-2
1st Short paper assigned

Week 2 (1/19)
MLK Day--class recess
1st Short paper due

Week 3 (1/26)
Nano Science: Ratner, chap. 3

Week 4 (2/2)
Engineering at the Nanoscale : Ratner, chap. 4

Week 5 (2/9)
Informal discussion: The Prospects for Nano
Class meeting with DEB NEWBERRY, Newberry Technologies, Minneapolis
FIRST EXTERNAL SPEAKER - 2/9: 7:00-8:00 PM, DOW 641
Deb Newberry, co-author of The Next Big thing is Really Small

Week 6 (2/16)
Societal Implications of Nanoscale Science and Engineering: Ratner Chap. 11
Dr. Seely

SECOND EXTERNAL SPEAKER - Wednesday 2/18: 8:00-9:00 PM, MM U115
JED MACOSKO, University of New Mexico
"Force Generating Fingers in HIV: A Study in Nanomachinery"

Week 7 (2/23)
Nano Applications (Intro) Ratner, chap. 5

Week 8 (3/8)
Nano Applications: Materials Ratner, chap. 6
Dr. Frank Underdown, Nano entrepreneur, Keweenaw Nanoscience Center

Week 9 (3/15)
Nano Applications: Sensors Ratner, chap. 7

Week 10 (3/22)
Nano Applications: Biomedical Ratner, chap 8 Week 11 (3/29)

Week 11 (3/29)
Nano in the real world Ratner, chap. 10

Week 12 (4/5)
NANO at MTU: Faculty presentations

Week 13 (4/12)
NANO at MTU: Faculty presentations
Poster Session?

Week 14 (4/19)
External Speaker: NANOETHICS
DR. ROSALYN BERNE, University of Virginia

Week 15 (4/26)
Molecular Assembly discussion/ 2nd short paper due
DR. DANIEL AKINS, City College of New York