The Sizer Physics students embarked on an epic trip to the University of Maine to check out the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST). Our main reason for this trip was to explore nanotechnology to do research in support our budding nanotech unit. The Sizer physics class will hopefully be experimenting with Carbon Nanotubes and Quantum Dots. The experiments will teach not only our physics class, but the Sizer Division I students at the end of the year. Prior to the trip the Sizer physics class briefly studied the structure and composition of both nanotubes and quantum dots. This allowed us to go in knowing a bit about the subjects we would study in depth.
Once we arrived we were provided with an excellent breakfast. We then proceeded to an introductory lecture, given by Dr. Robert Lad, who is a former director of LASST. LASST bought us lunch after giving us a tour of their facilities. We were then introduced to some graduate students who gave us a hands-on learning experience with technologies, such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), that can measure more than 100 times smaller than human hair, roughly 10 atoms in width!
The second lesson was on X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) which allows us to identify a thin film material by launching x-ray photons at it and measuring the energy of the displaced electrons. We were fortunate enough to have a real research scientist, Dr. George Bernhardt, working in the lab and thoughtfully answering questions.
Our final lesson was on Nanoparticles and Quantum Dots (NPQD), which was led by both Dr. Carl Tripp and Dr. Rob Meulenberg. We saw how nanoparticles like quantum dots behaved, and some of their applications, and we then spilled everything we learned onto three full whiteboards!
Afterwards, we went to the dining hall once more and had a fantastic dinner and then went to the hotel for a night full of fun and much needed rest.
The next morning, there was an optional run through the campus that students and faculty alike were welcome to join. Afterwards, the group met up and went back for another delicious, all you can eat, college-style breakfast. After that we got to see a show about the possibility of habitable planets in our universe at the college’s very own Planetarium. Immediately after we were shown the Maynard F. Jordan Observatory where they house the biggest and best telescope in the entire state of Maine!
Next, the group took a quick detour through the college’s bookstore on the way back to the LASST stop on our agenda. We were given presentations by three students (two graduate students and one undergraduate student) on the groundbreaking applications of nanotechnology. Afterwards, we had yet another lovely lunch sponsored by the College of Engineering. In exchange for lunch, the Associate Dean of Engineering, Dr. Mohamad Musavi, explained many of the benefits of going to the University of Maine. We then got into our cars and journeyed home.
This trip opened up new possibilities for our students in regards to college tours and access, a deeper understanding of this arena of the science world, and application of the rigorous education expectations for our Division III scholars.
Thank you UMaine!