Posted: August 12, 2010

State-of-the-art nanotechnology overview course at Rice

(Nanowerk News) Fans of nanotechnology can hear about the latest research from the source through a course offered this fall by Rice University's Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
In conjunction with Rice's Year of Nano celebration of the 25th anniversary of the buckminsterfullerene molecule discovery – the buckyball – the Glasscock School is offering a course to the public featuring lectures by Rice's top nano scientists. The course will cover applications of nanotechnology and the underlying scientific principles that relate to medicine, electronics, materials and energy. Participants will explore the environmental, health and safety aspects of nanotechnology, how Rice is leading the way in understanding and assessing the risks and how applications are brought to market and create jobs.
First among the lecturers is one of the buckyball's discoverers, Robert Curl, Rice's University Professor Emeritus and Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences, who shared the Nobel Prize with the late Richard Smalley of Rice and Harold Kroto, then of the University of Sussex and now at Florida State University.
Curl will discuss the team's work and subsequent impact of the buckyball, a 60-atom carbon molecule shaped like a soccer ball and one of the hardest substances in the universe. Wade Adams, director of Rice University's Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, co-sponsor of the course, will join Curl for the presentation.
In successive weeks, students will hear from:
  • Vicki Colvin, Rice's Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Chemistry and director of Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, on how material properties can be controlled on nanometer-length scales and how these properties can be exploited to develop new technologies.
  • Doug Natelson, professor of physics and astronomy, who will present his research on the electronic, magnetic and optical properties of nanoscale structures and discuss the possibilities of probing the crossover between classical mechanics and quantum mechanics on the nanoscale.
  • Michael Wong, professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering, who will explore the impact of nanotechnology on the production, transmission and storage of energy derived from hydrocarbon and nonhydrocarbon sources.
  • Pulickel Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, who will relate real-world applications to core scientific principles that guide the development of novel materials and tools.
  • Jennifer West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and chair of bioengineering, who will discuss biomedical applications of nano for whole-blood bioassays, controlled drug delivery and optically controlled valves for microfluidic devices, as well as cancer therapy using gold nanoshells.
  • Daniel Mittleman, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who will discuss potential applications offered by the unique relationship between light and matter.
  • Kristen Kulinowski, faculty fellow in chemistry and executive director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology and the International Council on Nanotechnology, who will explore the impact of nanotechnology on the environment and potential health risks. She will discuss society's response to the technology, industry's development of best practices for handling nanomaterials and how the public can access resources about nanotechnologies.
  • Thomas Kraft, director of technology ventures development at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, who will explain the commercialization cycle and the barriers faced by high-tech products associated with nanotechnology and highlight resources to achieve success.
  • Steve Garfinkel, director of community programs for the Glasscock School, said the course is filling up. "We're very early in our registration period for the fall, and it's already got a pretty good start. It's one of the more popular courses," he said.
    Garfinkel expects the course to draw participants with a wide range of interests. "Our students are well-educated in general," he said, "and I think this will appeal to a pretty wide swath of people.
    "We have some wonderful, high-powered speakers from the Smalley Institute presenting these lectures, and we think people are really going to be wowed."
    Classes will be held on nine Tuesdays beginning Sept. 14 (with the exception of Oct. 12). The fee is $105; $85 for members of NanoFANS, co-sponsoring organizations and Rice alumni. Register at
    Source: Rice University