The word “nano” has made quite some headlines in recent years, from nanobots to intelligent nanocapsules. The aim of the module is to deliver understanding about the nanoworld, i.e. objects with sizes between 10-9-10-6 meters.
The idea that machines can be miniaturized was born as a utopistic vision in the 60s. In sessions 1-3 we recapitulate this vision and investigate the underlying problem, namely that the properties of very small objects are substantially different from those of macroscopic ones. We overview the most important characteristics of nanosized objects and the problem of seeing at the nanoscale (microscopies, spectroscopies).
In the second part, we investigate how the construction of nanoscale machines is still possible, despite the aforementioned difficulties. With the aid of simple secondary interactions (e.g. hydrogen bonds), it is possible to synthesize interlocked supramolecules, which, upon reacting to appropriate chemical stimuli, can work as switches and motors. Subsequently, we investigate how materials with desired functions can emerge from the collective motion of molecular motors. The module closes with a workshop where everyone presents their molecular motors designed for a specific purpose.
The module is highly recommended for students interested in natural sciences, engineering, environmental sciences or philosophy.