Exploring Materials - Thin Films

  • Exploring Materials - Thin Films
NISE Network product

"Exploring Materials - Thin Films" is a hands-on activity in which visitors create a colorful bookmark using a super thin layer of nail polish on water. They learn that a thin film creates iridescent, rainbow colors. "Explore Science - Zoom info Nano Rainbow Film" (2016) version designed for groups and community outreach.



Big Idea

The way a material behaves on the macroscale is affected by its structure on the nanoscale.

Learning Goals

The way a material behaves on the macroscale is affected by its stucture on the nanoscale.

The thin film reflects differently depending on how thick it is, so you can see different colors

Nano Content Map
Nanometer-sized things are very small, and often behave differently than larger things do.
Nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering lead to new knowledge and innovations that weren't possible before.



Developed for the NISE Network with funding from the National Science Foundation under Award Numbers 0532536 and 0940143. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Owning institution

The Science Museum of Minnesota

Development Process

NISE Network products are developed through an iterative collaborative process that includes scientific review, peer review, and visitor evaluation in accordance with an inclusive audiences approach. Products are designed to be easily edited and adapted for different audiences under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. To learn more, visit our Development Process page.