In this film "Zoom into a Lotus Leaf," see an up close look at the tiny nanostructures that give the leaf its unique behavior. The Lotus Leaf is a symbol of purity because it appears to be perpetually clean. We now know that its self-cleaning properties are due to its ability to repel water very effectively; it's superhydrophobic. It gets its superhydrophobicity from tiny nanostructures. We start with a normal digital camera and zoom in using increasingly powerful microscopes as we explore this phenomena.
Three Drops is a full body immersive simulation that allows visitors to interact with water at three size scales using their shadows. At each scale, different physical forces can be observed. At the macro (human) scale, where gravity is the noticeable force, visitors are showered with water drops from a simulated shower. At the microscale--one thousand times smaller--where surface tension becomes more apparent, visitors play with a beach-ball sized water drop.
This hands-on SustainABLE activity is meant to promote conversation about how water is distributed and used, and how we can work together to conserve this limited resource. In different parts of the country, guests may be familiar with different issues around water. For example, in some areas, purity of water may be more relevant to visitors than drought. (You can tailor the presentation of the activity to better reflect local concerns.) Players decide how they would distribute water between homes, farms and factories by sliding marbles down a tube into various containers.
Martin McCarthy / NISE Network
“Nano sand” is a product that was originally invented to help clean up oil spills in water. Since the “nano sand” is hydrophobic, it does not let water molecules pass through. It does, however, let oil molecules pass through. When oil-contaminated water is exposed to “magic sand”, the oil passes through and leaves clean water behind. And when “magic sand” is sprinkled on top of oil spills, the sand binds with the oil and creates oil- filled sand clumps that fall to the bottom of an ocean or lake.
This activity developed by NNIN explores how nanotechnology can be used to change the properties of a copper surface so that it either attracts or repels water. It is appropriate for middle school and high school students.
The Lotus Effect describes water droplets rolling off leaf surfaces, removing dirt and contaminants in the process. This phenomenon can also be seen in the more common nasturtium. Scanning electron microscope images show that nasturtium leaves are covered by waxy nanocrystal bundles. The uneven surface created by these tiny structures traps air between water and leaf, causing the water to roll off. Research on such nanoscale effects has inspired revolutionary new materials, including water- and stain-resistant fabrics.
• IMAGING TOOL: Optical microscope
Nanoscale science and technology (“nano” for short) is all around us and growing rapidly. Learn how you can use nanotechnology to clean drinking water right now!
NanoBuzz is a web-based kiosk featuring exhibit-ready access to current nanoscale science, technology and engineering and emerging research in the news. Website includes four online puzzle games: Help assemble the carbon nanotubes, Help filter the water, Try to find the nanoparticle, and Test your nanotech memory.
"Exploring Size - Ball Sorter" is a hands-on activity in which visitors use sieves with different-sized holes, to sort balls by size. They learn that researchers are developing new technologies that can sort nano-sized things, including filters with nano-sized holes.