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Chemistry

Introduction to Nanotechnology

Nanoscience is the study of material properties at the nanoscale, which is on the range of 1-100 nanometers. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter. To give you a sense of the scale, a single human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide! At the nanoscale, materials have different properties than at larger scales. Some of these materials become better at producing energy, releasing heat, changing the properties of light and magnetism. Nanotechnology is the application of nanoscience for applications in areas such as sustainable energy production, biomedicine, and environmental science, among others. Chemistry is at the forefront of nanoscience in areas of nanoparticle synthesis and development of nanotechnology-based applications.

In this course we will explore nanoscience through lectures and labs. We will discuss real-world applications of nanotechnology, including sustainable energy production (solar cells; next generation batteries), biomedicine (nanoparticle-based sensing), and environmental science (pollution reduction).

By the end of this course, students will be able to define nanotechnology and have gained knowledge in:

  • Size and shape dependent properties at the nanometer scale
  • Enhanced physical properties of nanomaterials
  • What nanoparticles are and how to synthesize them
  • Applications of nanotechnology

Prerequisite: Some high school chemistry is recommended for students choosing this course.

Course Requirements

The requirements to pass this course are:

  • Carry out chemistry experiments including nanoparticle synthesis and nanotechnology applications
  • Learn to keep a proper laboratory notebook.
  • Write a report on each of the six laboratory experiments (graded).
  • Prepare and present a poster on an application of nanotechnology.

Credit Hours: 3

Course Instructors


Ghavya SharmaBhavya Sharma is originally from Hawaii. She received her BS degree from SUNY at Buffalo and her PhD degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Bhavya was a postdoctoral researcher in Rick Van Duyne’s group at Northwestern University. She started her academic career at the University of Tennessee in August 2015. Bhavya’s research involves the use of Raman spectroscopy, a light scattering technique, to examine the underlying physics and chemistry of biological systems. In particular, her group is interested in biomedical applications of Raman spectroscopy. Dr. Sharma’s group also uses nanoscience in their development of biochemical assays for biomarkers of human health.

Taylor PayneHey guys! I am a senior at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. I grew up not too far away in Johnson City, TN. I am double majoring in chemistry and Spanish and am part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. For the past three years, I have been doing chemical research in the Sharma group at UT. We use a light scattering technique to detect physiological levels of neurotransmitters for the early detection of disease. I also volunteer each week at Centro Hispano de Knoxville, translating documents and helping out in the office. Once I graduate from UT, I am going to graduate school to earn a PhD in chemistry, and I want my career to focus on research. I spend my free time riding my bike, hiking, playing guitar, and listening to music. This will be my third year as an RA and as a chemistry TA for Governor’s School. I am very excited to get to know you and share this experience with you this summer!