Posts Tagged ‘exhibit’


We Have a Ball

January 27, 2008

The gallery in the main building of Nanotechnology Island has a giant model of buckminsterfullerene.  What’s that?

Buckminsterfullerene is a molecule made of 60 carbon atoms, so it is also called C60 (where the 60 is subscript).  The shorter name ‘buckyball’ is also used, because it resembles a ball.  It’s named after Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), the scientist, architect, and philosopher who popularized the geodesic dome (which is similar in structure).  Buckyballs were discovered in 1985 by Harold Kroto, James R. Heath, Sean O’Brien, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley.  The distance from the middle of an atom on one side to the middle of an atom on the other side is about 0.7 nanometres.

If you look at the model, you’ll see that there are both pentagons (five-sided) and hexagons (six-sided), and none of the pentagons share an edge… just like a soccer ball.  How many pentagons are there?  One way to find out is by visiting the model in Second Life and counting them.

By the way, we’re leaving room in the gallery for your exhibits – and NPL may even pay you for them!  For more information about that, see the webpage about the NanoLands Challenge.


Atomic Force Microscopes

January 24, 2008

Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) can “see” things that are smaller than a nanometer – which is much better resolution than what’s possible with optical microscopes. How do they do that? How are AFMs used?

In the East Wing of the Main Building on Nanotechnology Island, there’s a Surface and Nano-Analysis Lab with a model of an AFM. (There’s also a model of a SIMS, which I’ll write about some other day.)

If you sit on the stool at the AFM, you can click on various samples to analyze them -an image appears on the computer screen, and you also get a notecard explaining what you see. Samples include a human hair, tungsten nanoparticles on a gold surface, and a PVC/PC polymer blend.

You can also click on the doors of the AFM enclosure, then click on the head of the AFM to see the innards a bit.

Outside the Surface and Nano-Analysis Lab is an exhibit which explains the principles of AFMs. The basic idea is that a needle is dragged across the surface of the sample being analyzed, a bit like a record player. The up-and-down motion of the needle tells you about how the height of the surface varies from place to place. (This is all roughly speaking, for clarity.)

AFMs can actually be operated in a variety of different imaging modes. The exhibit animates four of those modes: constant height, constant force, intermittent contact, and force modulation. Explanations of the modes are also given.

You can check it all out now, at Nanotechnology Island.


Exploring Nano 2: MOSFETs

December 2, 2007

The second project in the Exploring Nano series is an exhibit about MOSFETs, the kind of transistors found in chips (the “brains” of modern electronic devices like digital cameras, iPods, and computers). The exhibit combines music and narration synchronized with pictures and animations to explain what MOSFETs are and how they’re put together. To visit the exhibit in Second Life, click here. Note: You must enable streaming video to enjoy the full exhibit – don’t forget to disable video streaming when you leave the exhibit, as there is currently a security issue with leaving streaming video enabled in SL (e.g. people can steal all your Linden dollars!).

MOSFET Exhibit