About I’m a Scientist

I’m a Scientist is like school science lessons meet the X Factor! School students choose which scientist gets a prize of €500 to communicate their work.

Scientists and students talk on this website. They both break down barriers, have fun and learn. But only the students get to vote.

This is the Nanotechnology Zone. It has a range of scientists studying all different topics. Who gets the prize? YOU decide!

IOP irelandThe Nanotechnology Zone is funded by the Institute of Physics in Ireland, paving the way for big discussions about very small things.

Find out more about physics and discover the best online physics resources at physics.org; search for physics degrees at MyPhysicsCourse.org.

About this Zone

"Nanokid": Chemical structure of 2-(2,5-bis(3,3-dimethylbut-1-ynyl)-4-(2-(3,5-di(pent-1-ynyl)phenyl)ethynyl)phenyl)-1,3-dioxolane [Image: Wikimedia/Calvero]

“Nanokid”: Chemical structure of 2-(2,5-bis(3,3-dimethylbut-1-ynyl)-4-(2-(3,5-di(pent-1-ynyl)phenyl)ethynyl)phenyl)-1,3-dioxolane [Image: Wikimedia/Calvero]

Nano means one billionth. So a nanometre is one billionth of a meter: 0.000000001 m.

Nanotechnology looks at technology which uses building materials the size of only one billionth of a meter; atoms.

Atoms can be manipulated into shapes, models, and even tiny machines. There are a great many applications for nanotechnology, from medicine and food, to energy and space travel.

In medicine, scientists are making molecules which will be able to deliver medicines to a specific cell in the body; this will make the drugs more effective as it will treat only the affected part of the body, so less will be wasted. It is thought that this will also make cancer treatments—such as chemotherapy—less damaging to the rest of the body, as it will be able to treat only the cancerous cells.

There are scientists who think it might be possible to build a lift (or an elevator to our US students) which will stretch into space. Why hasn’t anyone managed this before? Because we’ve never had cables strong enough to do it. Using nanotechnologies, it might be possible to make a material strong enough to send such a lift into space. This could be used to take satellites into space, significantly reducing the cost of sending things into orbit.

Many scientists have used nanotechnologies to express their creative sides. Researchers have manipulated chemical structures into the shapes of people, cars, and even trucks and wheel barrows that can be used to move other smaller molecules around.