EDUCATION: Making a Small World

Science  30 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5586, pp. 1451c
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5586.1451c

This nest of spikes is a nifty material known as a ferrofluid, a slurry containing particles of iron compounds. The magnetic goo—shown here climbing the field lines emanating from the magnet below—serves as a dust-blocking sealant in disk drives and a resonance dampener in speakers.

Demystifying ferrofluids and other examples of nanotechnology is the aim of Exploring the Nanoworld, which features video demonstrations and lab activities for grade school to college students. Hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the site's video clips investigate the properties of carbon nanotubes, alloys of nickel and titanium that “remember” their original shape even when bent or twisted, and foam that becomes thicker when you stretch it. Background articles explain the underlying science, and for teachers there's also a video lab manual with eight nanoactivities. Follow the instructions to make organic light-emitting diodes or craft a solar cell from, among other materials, a pigment found in raspberries.

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