The proposal for this award was received in response to the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Education (NSEE) announcement, NSF 03-044, Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE).
Investigators at California State Polytechnic University Pomona recognize a unique opportunity to offer students in introductory service courses the chance to use industrial grade research equipment in ways that will elucidate fundamental physics concepts at the nanoscale. Physics service courses serve large numbers of students from a multitude of disciplines that require physics for their major. Specific modules will be designed for these service courses around an atomic force microscope, a microscope capable of imaging atoms. Each module will be designed to illustrate the measurement or observation of a physics concept at the nanoscale that will complement student investigations of these concepts at the macroscale. Applications will span all areas of science and engineering and examples include: microscopic friction on bacteria cell membranes to complement existing labs on macroscopic friction of a mass on an incline; microscopic magnetism exhibited by magnetic stripes on videotape to complement existing labs on magnetic forces between currents in wires and the magnetic field of a solenoid; microscopic topography of smooth glass, rough glass, diffraction gratings and butterfly wings to complement existing labs on reflection and interference of light; microscopic capacitance and electrostatics to complement existing labs on mapping macroscopic electric fields. Once these core modules have been implemented into the introductory courses, they will be revised to allow implementation into more advanced junior and senior level courses and student research projects.
Funding for this award is provided by the Division of Physics in the MPS Directorate and the Division of Earth Sciences in the Directorate for Geosciences.