Nanotechnology: LHU shows science program to high schoolers

LOCK HAVEN As high school students are preparing to choose a path for their future, some students recently were given the opportunity to explore the world of nanotechnology at Lock Haven University.

High school students who attended two separate events on the campus, spent an entire day at the university learning about its nanotechnology program. Students also were given tours of the campus.

“Nano is starting to be, and can be, in anything,” said Dr. Jacqueline Whitling, professor of chemistry, to the students during a presentation.

Whitling explained that there have been 60 individuals who have graduated from the program and 70 students currently enrolled in some form of nanotechnology.

She also explained that there are options within the program. Students can minor, receive an associates degree or work toward a bachelors degree. All sciences at the university are able to be worked into the program, Whitling said.

To explain the size of a nanometer, Whitling explained that a human fingernail grows 1 nanometer every second. She added that an average human is about 1.7 billion nanometers.

Students also were given examples of nanotechnology. Whitling spoke about how the technology is enhancing electronic devices.

“We’re trying to make things brighter and smaller,” she said.

Computers also can store more data with nanotechnology. When looking to improve safety, nanotechnology can create lighter bulletproof vests that can absorb more of an impact.

After the presentation, students were given tours of facilities and got the opportunity to see nanotechnology in action. At one demonstration they saw how nanotechnology is used in clothing. Through nanotechnology, when a liquid was spilled onto a shirt instead of soaking in and staining the shirt, it slid off.

As part of the program, students spend a summer at Penn State. Current students in the program spoke about how intense the summer program is but also how much they learned. Albert Foster, a student in the program, talked about the project that his group developed during the summer course.

Students also are given the opportunity to learn more about nanotechnology as a member of the Nanotech Club.

“We go to different places. We have industry tours,” Whitling said.

And Whitling explained to the visiting students that the university is set to unveil a new science center at the school’s East Campus.

Whitling and current students both stressed that the opportunities in the program usually are reserved for graduate-level students but are given to undergraduate students at the school.