The Zoom Into Nano Concept
The story of Zoom Into Nano centers around the concept that all things are made of atoms and that atoms - when assembled into molecules - have size and shape. Building on these core ideas, the exhibition highlights how scientists use nanotechnology to manipulate matter at size scales of less than 100 nanometers.
To give visitors an important foundation for understanding nanotechnology, Zoom Into Nano illustrates a relatively simple set of important concepts. Exhibits build upon information that visitors have probably been exposed to in middle school, including some basic chemistry lessons on the nature of atoms.
The foundation of Zoom Into Nano is built on the following concepts:
- All things are made of atoms.
- At the nanometer scale, atoms are in constant motion.
- Molecules have size and shape.
- Molecules in the nanometer scale environment have unexpected properties.
Introducing Visitors to Nanometer Scale
Zoom Into Nano creative group surveyed children and adults to determine their knowledge of the nanometer scale world and nanotechnology. The results were not surprising: few individuals have an extensive understanding of nanometer scale phenomena or have the ability to place things in a relative size order.
Therefore, a key challenge in creating Zoom Into Nano, and indeed working with the subject of nanotechnology in general, was to present to visitors representations of the nanometer scale world that is grounded the familiar - objects from a world that is understood and at a scale of what can be seen.
Portraying the Nanometer Scale World
Models provide an important means of introducing visitors to all things nano. Since there is little that you can really 'see' at the atomic scale, they help to demonstrate differences in size, structures and behavior of atoms and molecules.
Zoom Into Nano builds on these basic concepts of shape and movement as represented by models to then allow visitors to explore central concepts of nanotechnology and how matter is manipulated at the atomic scale.