NNCO Newsletter: Spring 2017

May 11, 2017


What’s Big in Small Science?

Brought to you by the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO)


Highlight from the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)

The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research has published a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Innovative Research in Cancer Nanotechnology (IRCN) initiative, PAR-17-240. The purpose of this FOA is to address major barriers in cancer biology and/or oncology using nanotechnology, with emphasis on the fundamental understanding of nanomaterial interactions with biological systems, mechanisms of nanoparticle delivery in vivo, and characterization of diagnostic devices in vitro.

Top NNI Education Stories

Nano Film, the NNI’s Public Video Competition: Nano Film is designed to highlight the accomplishments of and build community around the NNI, and to educate the general public about nanotechnology. The latest winner, Portable Devices for Disease Diagnostics, was submitted by nanoscience graduate student, Taylor Mabe, and film student, Jenna Schad, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Their video describes a nanotechnology-enabled, handheld sensor that could “do an analysis anywhere in the world at any time!”

Nanotechnology Animations Airing on PBS: What’s a Quantum Dot?,” created in collaboration with Western Carolina University’s Professor Mary Anna LaFratta and distributed through PBS’s Community Idea Stations Science Matters, went live on March 30th. This is the second year that NNCO has provided scripts and feedback while graphic design students created short animations about nanotechnology. These animated videos also air on Virginia PBS television stations. The first set has been added to the PBS Learning Media site, which provides free content to K-12 teachers.

Society for Emerging and Nanotechnologies (SENT) Showcase: In April, the University of Central Florida’s undergraduate group, SENT, hosted a showcase of student research. Majors represented included nanotechnology, materials science, physics, engineering, biomedical sciences, and finance. Research topics included nanomaterial processing, neural networks, nanotechnology in agriculture, photothermal nanomechanical detection, biofuels, solar cells, service learning, and many others! NNCO Director Lisa Friedersdorf addressed the students via webcast. SENT representatives participate in the Nano and Emerging Technologies Student Network and will attend the Student Leaders Conference co-located with TechConnect World NanoTech 2017

UCLA’s First Annual NANOvation Competition for High School Students: The first UCLA California NanoSystems Institute’s NANOvation Competition was held in May and the top prize went to a team from Valencia High School in California, with Daniella Duran as teacher leader. Ms. Duran is a former RET participant through the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, an Honors Nanoscience and Chemistry Teacher, and Teacher Facilitator at the UCLA High School Nanoscience Program.  Ms. Duran also organizes a Nanoscience Research Poster Session at Valencia High School that has been featured on the local news.

Upcoming Events

May 14-17: Student Leaders Conference co-located with TechConnect World NanoTech 2017

June 1: Teachers Webinar - Connecting Classrooms & Researchers with the Sustainable Nano Blog

June 13-14: NNI Nanosensor Manufacturing Workshop

October 9: National Nanotechnology Day

Spring 2017 Issue

NNCO Director, Lisa E. Friedersdorf, PhD

Director's Corner


Nanotechnology is increasingly entering commerce, and the classroom.

I have long believed nanotechnology is a great tool to inspire students to pursue STEM education, and even taught the basics of nano in my high school physics and chemistry classes more than a decade ago. Gecko gloves? Invisibility cloaks? Gold can appear red? These hooks can be the spark that starts a deeper investigation about the science that enables the unique properties at the nanoscale. With early applications solidly in the marketplace and becoming ubiquitous, it is important for all students to have a basic understanding of nanotechnology to ensure they can become informed consumers. And perhaps these nanotechnology examples can set students on a path to become the scientists and engineers we will need to exploit the novel properties at the nanoscale, and to lead the revolution in technology and industry that benefits society.

NNCO, in support of its responsibilities for public outreach under the 21st Century Nanotechnology R&D Act and Goal 3 of the NNI, has been reaching out to teachers across the country to make them aware of resources available to incorporate nanotechnology in their classrooms. Last month, NNCO exhibited at the National Science Teachers Association meeting, joined by representatives from the NSF National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure and nanoHUB. Teachers from all grade levels enthusiastically snatched up Nanooze, reference guides, brochures, and information about National Nanotechnology Day, the Teaching Nano and Emerging Technologies Network, and the searchable Nanoeducational Resources Database. (The handouts and materials available in the database were largely developed as part of NNI projects over the past 16 years.) Compared with just last year, more teachers shared examples of how they are already talking about nanotechnology in their classrooms and how it excites their students. There were also several excellent workshops by teachers for teachers that focused on lessons for nanotechnology. NNCO has invited the workshop presenters to participate in the teacher webinar series to further expand the impact of their experiences teaching nanotechnology.  

For more information and resources for teachers and students, please see the education pages of Nano.gov or reach out to us at nanoed@nnco.nano.gov.