Ask a Scientist: How Do You Work With Nanoscale Materials Since They Are So Small?

2 minutes

I'm Saniya LeBlanc, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at George Washington University.

One way we work with them is we have special microscopes that allow us to "see" something that small. So we use microscopes that shoot electrons at the material, and we can see them that way. Another really neat way that we work with nanomaterials is we have these microscopes where they're like fingers, but the end is really tiny-- the size of the nanoparticles we're looking at. So we use these "nanofingers" and we can then bounce them around on top of the material, so we see what shape that material is, like using your fingers to touch something and imagine what it looks like. Another way we can work with nanomaterials is to apply forces and see what they do. That helps us learn. We can apply an electric field or magnetic field to them. I'm a mechanical engineer, so I like to push them around. We apply mechanical forces to push them in a direction. We can heat them up. All of those things allow us to work with them. We can manipulate nanomaterials and we can understand how they behave to learn more about them.


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Nano expert Saniya LeBlanc from George Washington University discusses how scientists are able to work with such small particles. Part of the “Ask a Scientist” series.

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Runtime: 2 minutes

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