This module covers nanoparticles. I extend from carbon nanotubes and fullerenes to cover a variety of nanoparticles and nanomaterials including: micelles and liposomes, dendrimers, quantum dots, aerogels, nanowires etc. There are two labs that could be done for this section involving inorganic synthesis of nanoparticles. The one I do is the synthesis of an aqueous ferrofluid which I use as it is described on UW Madison's MRSEC web site:
This is a nice lab that the students really enjoy. They are fascinated when they get the ferrofluid to "spike" in response to a magnet. When I first did this lab I was only getting about a 50% success on spiking. Make sure your ammonia has not decreased in concentration which can happen over time. Be sure to add plenty of TMAH then give it a good shake to get the excess black liquid out. I now achieve 100% spiking for the class.
TMAH is a bit of a health hazard and I dispense this instead of letting my students do it at this point in their career. The ferrofluid will stain your clothing so be sure to let the students know to wear old clothes.
I try to get them to puzzle out the formula Fe3O4 given that oxygen has a -2 oxidation state.
The other main learning object for this unit is how to calculate the surface area of a nanomaterial in square meters per gram. This is an important metric for nanomaterials and is often quoted when you buy them. My students are required to determine the surface area in square meters per gram given a type of material and the nanoparticle size.
Another lab that I sometimes do in my high school class is the synthesis of coloidal gold:
The gold chloride is a little expensive but it is an easier lab. I have the students use the spectrophotometer to observe the absorption frquency of the gold nanoparticles. The trisodium citrate does not keep a whole year so if you only do the lab once a year you will have to make up new solution. The gold chloride solution does last a long time.
The picture I used here are some copper oxide nanowires we make. It is quite simple, just heat copper wire at 500 degrees Celsius for 4 hours. Then observe in an SEM. Be careful not to touch the dark corrosion because you will destroy the nanowires.
I always show this film in my first nanoscience class:
This has a nice collection of significant scientists involved in nanoscience. There is another video by the same group targeted towards a high school audience. I am not sure where it can be found on line any more. I see it mentioned on the following web site. I think it must be up on youtube somewhere?