Present and Future

UTHSC Hosts 2010 NanoDays Celebration

Memphis, Tenn. (March 26, 2010) - On Tuesday, March 30, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will host a daylong NanoDays celebration.  NanoDays is an annual nationwide effort to inform and educate communities about the impact of nanoscience, an emerging discipline with the potential to transform society in future decades.  Many scientists and health care professionals believe that nanoscience has yet untapped potential to produce numerous new jobs in the biotechnology field.

The events will be hosted on the UTHSC campus by Pathology Chair Charles R. Handorf, MD, PhD, professor, and Anand Kulkarni, MD, assistant professor.  The location for the symposium and lecture will be in the Hamilton Eye Institute's Freeman Auditorium, 930 Madison, Third Floor.

Robert F. Curl, Jr., PhD, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, is the special guest for the daylong activities on the UTHSC Memphis campus.  (A schedule of events is below.)  The Nobel laureate will deliver the keynote speech during the culminating event, 6:30 p.m. at the Freeman Auditorium.

Dr. Curl won the Nobel award for discovering the first fullerene, the third form of pure carbon (after diamond and graphite).  The discovery was named buckminsterfullerene, or "buckyball," for its resemblance to the domes promoted by American architect R. Buckminster Fuller.  The buckyball is the largest and most symmetrical, round molecule known to nanoscience.  Technically called C60, the buckyball is made of hexagons and pentagons of carbon linked into the shape of a hollow soccer ball.  The bonding strains are equally distributed among 60 carbon atoms, making the buckyball stronger than other organic molecules and able to survive strong collisions with metals and other materials, as well as the extreme temperatures of outer space.

More than a thousand compounds have been developed since buckyballs were first made available to scientists.  Buckyballs with fewer than 60 carbon atoms take on a tubular shape referred to as the nanotube.  The nanotube is used extensively in applications related to the electronics industry.

Nanotechnology focuses on materials or devices that are 1 to100 nanometers (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter).  This technology is now used to develop medical applications such as pregnancy tests, sunscreen lotions and athlete's foot medications.

The nanoscale consists of particles smaller than cells but larger than atoms. On the nanoscale, it takes 8,000 nanometers to equal the diameter of one red blood cell.  One human hair on the nanoscale is made up of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers.  Nanoscale solutions can potentially solve some of the major problems of our time.  To view the nanoscale versus the macro, micro and atomic scales, please visit: www.nisenet.org/sites/default/files_static/size_and_scale/FinalScreenLadder.pdf.

NanoDays outreach events are held nationwide each spring to inform communities about nanoscale science, technology and engineering.  The events involve community-based educational organizations and nanoscience partners.  The annual celebrations are supported by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (www.NISENet.org), a section of the National Science Foundation.