The Tiny Solutions to Our Big Energy Problem program gives a brief overview of energy sources and our current energy crisis and discusses a variety of ways that nanotechnology can improve the way we harness energy (improving solar cells), distribute energy (carbon nanotube transmission lines) and use energy (nanotech-enhanced LED bulbs). It is primarily a slideshow presentation, designed for medium-to-large audiences. It consists mostly of a lecture, with a few live demonstrations and a few audience interactions.
Through hands-on activities, visitors learn how inkjet printers produce tiny, precise drops of ink. They examine printed paper with magnifying glasses, see a few demonstrations of how liquids behave differently at the small scale, and see an explosive demonstration of how ink is forced out of an ink cartridge.
This cart demo is about Biobarcodes, a nanomedical technology that allows for massively parallel testing for disease diagnosis. Visitors learn about antibodies, how each antibody binds to a unique protein, and how biobarcoding uses nanoparticles, antibodies, DNA and magnetism to detect diseases earlier than we could detect before. Visitors assemble a jigsaw puzzle that models how Biobarcodes™ work.
This is a cart demo about how nanoparticles behave differently, in part because they have a high surface area:volume ratio. Visitors learn that smaller particles have a much higher proportion of their atoms on the surface. Visitors unfold paper cubes, drop alka-seltzer in water, turn potatoes black with iodine, and see fireballs to understand how surface area changes as you get small.
This cart demonstration introduces the nanomaterial aerogel, a glass nanofoam. Visitors learn how aerogel is made, how well it insulates, and learn about its other unique properties. They see real aerogel and feel how well it insulates.
This cart demo is about piezoelectricity - how some crystals produce electricity when you squeeze them. Visitors learn about the history of piezoelectricity, how it's used, and how it's applied in nanotechnology. They make electric sparks, handle models and listen to cheesy music.