What’s Nanotechnology? Kristin Persson Explains at 4 Different Levels

VIDEO: Molecular Foundry Director Kristin Persson celebrates National Nanotechnology Day with students. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

Happy National Nanotechnology Day!

Nanotechnology is any technology that’s engineered at the nanoscale, referring to 100 nanometers or less. That’s more than 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair! From the intricate components of our electronic devices to the targeted delivery of anti-cancer drugs, nanotechnology provides a powerful toolbox that is already changing the world.

Every year, National Nanotechnology Day is celebrated by scientists and educators on Oct. 9. That’s because a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or 10-9 meters. And here at Berkeley Lab’s nanoscience center, the Molecular Foundry, every Oct. 9 (10-9) is an extra opportunity to celebrate all things “nano.”

As a fun experiment for this year’s festivities, Molecular Foundry Director Kristin Persson accepted a challenge to explain nanoscale engineering at four different levels. She virtually met with four science enthusiasts – a kindergartner, a middle schooler, a high school senior, and a graduate student – to talk about nanoscience.

Persson used her experience as a professor of materials science and engineering, a mentor to dozens of Ph.D. students, a recognized expert in quantum and nanoscale science, and a parent of three kids to tailor the discussion of atomic-scale engineering to each person’s background. Watch the video to see how she did!

The video was produced by Marilyn Sargent, multimedia producer in Berkeley Lab’s Strategic Communications department.

The Molecular Foundry is a DOE Office of Science user facility located at Berkeley Lab.

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