Particles so small that only the newest and most sensitive instruments can see and study them are being used to create new materials and devices that could revolutionize everything from drug delivery to sunscreens. That encouraging revelation comes from Robert W. Hunt, a professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). Hunt heads a committee for the World Technology Evaluation Center that the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies have contracted to conduct a two-year, $400,000 study of nanotechnology around the world. Nanotechnology, a rapidly expanding scientific field, is in an early stage of development not unlike that of computer and information technology in the 1950s. Siegel, who coined the phrase "nanophase" materials, explains that new tools are letting scientists and engineers characterize and manipulate materials at the nanoscale level. For instance, he works with materials comprised of common atoms arranged in grains less than 100 nm in diameter--10,000 times smaller than grains in conventional materials. Researchers use them as building blocks to create materials with entirely new properties. Recently, members of Siegel's committee spent a week in Japan and in western Europe visiting sites conducting research on such materials. A report on their findings is due out this spring. E-mail email@example.com.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.