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Worcester Polytechnic Institute

CHE/ME 2301, Nanobiotechnology Laboratory Experience

Cat II, 1/3 unit. The current developments and experimental skills in nanoscale bioscience and biotechnology will be introduced. Experimental skills such as nanomaterials synthesis, electron microscopy and introductory biotechnology techniques are presented. This course will provide students training in laboratory technique and data handling. Recommended background: CH 1010 or equivalent. .

ME 4875, Introduction to Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology

Cat. I, 1/3 unit. This course introduces students to current developments in nanoscale science and technology. The current advance of materials and devices constituting of building blocks of metals, semiconductors, ceramics or polymers that are nanometer size (1-100 nm) are reviewed. The profound implications for technology and science of this research field are discussed. The differences of the properties of matter on the nanometer scale from those on the macroscopic scale due to the size confinement, predominance of interfacial phenomena and quantum mechanics are studied. The main issues and techniques relevant to science and technologies on the nanometer scale are considered. New developments in this field and future perspectives are presented. Topics covered include: fabrication of nanoscale structures, characterization at nanoscale, molecular electronics, nanoscale mechanics, new architecture, nano-optics and societal impacts. Recommended background:  ES 2001 Introduction to Materials or equivalent. 1/3 unit.

ME 575, Introduction to Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology

Two graduate credits. ME 575 is the graduate version of ME 4875, taught concurrently in seven weeks.

ME 5841, Surface Metrology

Three graduate credits.  This course emphasizes research applications of advanced surface metrology, including the measurement and analysis of surface roughness. Surface metrology can be important in a wide variety of situations (including adhesion, friction, catalysis, heat transfer, mass transfer, scattering, biological growth, wear and wetting) and with length scales from nano to terrestrial. These situations impact practically all the engineering disciplines and sciences. Students should have some background in engineering, math or science.

PH 2510, Atomic Force Microscopy

Cat. II, 1/3 unit. Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are instruments that allow three-dimensional imaging of surfaces with nanometer resolution and are important enabling tools for nanoscience and technology. The student who successfully completes this course will understand the functional principles of AFMs, be able to run one, and interpret the data that are collected. Recommended background: PH 1110 and 1120. Suggested background: PH 1130 and PH 1140. Link to poster.

The course has two main parts. The first half of the term emphasizes instrumentation, the second half interpretation. Each week, there are three one-hour lectures, one one-hour computer lab, and one two-hour instrument lab. Previous students have indicated that the course was not only helpful in their projects and research, but also in finding employment and securing admission to graduate school. You must pass the course in order to use the AFM in your future research in my laboratory. Auditors are welcome to sit in the lectures. However, they may not partake in the labs due to the high cost of supplies, the limited number of TAs, and licensing issues. Further development of the course has been in part supported by the Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education program of the National Science Foundation. Link to most recent syllabus.  Link to YouTube lessons.

PH 561, Atomic Force Microscopy

Three graduate credits. PH 561 is the graduate version of the course, taught over a semester instead of seven weeks, with higher expectations for the development of professional skills and more challenging homework. A bachelor's degree in science or engineering should be sufficient background. Link to most recent syllabus of PH 597A, newly renamed PH 561.  Link to YouTube lessons. 

PH 597N, Nanoscience Journal Club

One graduate credit. The course objectives are for graduate students to be exposed to recent nanoscience literature and to improve their skills in writing abstracts, giving presentations, and thinking critically.  Students research a recent nanoscience topic unfamiliar to them, write an abstract synthesizing a small collection of peer-reviewed publications, present the topic, and respond to questions from fellow students and faculty.

Minor in Nanoscience

Application form

Important to nanoscience are the studies of the structure and function of molecules, and the quantum and atomic properties of matter.  Nanoscientists investigate fundamental aspects of the behavior of molecules, materials, devices, and living matter at length scales smaller than the wavelength of visible light.  Synthesizing knowledge across disciplines greatly enhances progress in understanding nanoscale systems.  A Minor in Nanoscience will benefit students who wish to enhance their disciplinary major with an additional degree designation in the area of Nanoscience.

The Minor in Nanoscience requires the completion of at least two units of course work in the topical areas described below: (a,b).  Students planning the minor should contact Professor Burnham in the Physics Department.

1. Structure of Molecules. 

At least one course (1/3 unit) in organic, inorganic, or physical chemistry. 

2. Function of Molecules.   At least one course (1/3 unit) selected from the following list:

BB 1035             Introduction to Biotechnology
BB 2550             Cell Biology
BB 2920             Genetics

3. Quantum Properties of Matter.   At least one course (1/3 unit) selected from the following:

CH 3530                  Quantum Chemistry
PH 1130                   Modern Physics
PH 2501 or 2502      Photonics or Lasers
PH 3401 or 3402      Quantum Mechanics

4. Atomic Properties of Matter.   At least one course (1/3 unit) selected from the following list:

ES 2001                 Introduction to Material Science
ME 4875                Introduction to Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology
PH 3502                 Solid State Physics

5. Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization.  (No minimum number of required courses.)

CHE/ME 2301        Nanobiotechnology Laboratory Experience
PH 2510                 Atomic Force Microscopy

6. Interdisciplinary Capstone Experience in Nanoscience (1/3 unit).

The capstone experience for the nanoscience minor can be satisfied either by i) an independent study arranged for this purpose as the sixth course in the sequence, or ii) a small project during an existing course, also as the sixth course in the sequence (c).   If the second option is chosen, the student must arrange an interdisciplinary capstone experience with the instructor prior to the start of the course, and the instructor must agree to advise it.  In either case, documentation of the capstone is required, prepared in consultation with the independent study advisor or instructor, which incorporates and ties together concepts learned in the nanoscience courses selected.  After successful completion of the capstone, the instructor shall notify the student, Professor Burnham in the Physics Department, and the Registrar.


a.    In keeping with Institute-wide policy for minors, up to three courses may be double-counted for degree requirements (at most 1/3 unit of IQP), no course may be triple-counted, and the capstone experience must be done at the end of the sequence.  The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) may not be counted toward activity for Minors.

b.    Other courses, including graduate courses, may be used to satisfy the four topic areas with the approval of the Nanoscience Minor Committee (currently, Profs. Burnham, Camesano, and Liang).

c.   The following faculty members in the "NanoX" Interest Group are all willing to serve as Nanoscience Capstone or IS/P advisors: Profs. Bergendahl, Billiar, Brown, Burnham, Camesano, Cyganski, Deskins, Furlong, Gatsonis, Gericke, Grimm, Lambert, Liang, Liu, Massoud, Onal, Peterson, Pins, Pryputniewicz, Rahbar, Ram-Mohan, Rao, Tao, Thompson, Timko, Titova, Tuzel, Wen, Yagoobi, and Zhou.

Last modified: May 2014