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ENG 198 JS1 "The World of Nanotechnology"

Nanotechnology is an emerging interdisciplinary field with great potential for scientific innovation. There are, however, many misconceptions generated by popular fiction and the media. This course will provide a survey of the field with information on careers in nanotechnology as well as opportunities for undergraduate research on campus. In addition to the lectures, students will experiment with a variety of on-line tools and will work on team projects and independent study assignments. This course is reserved for freshman James Scholar students in the College of Engineering and it fulfills the freshman honors requirement.  Sophomores and juniors may also take the course as space allows.

SPRING 2017 - This course meets on Tuesdays at 4:00pm in 1302 Siebel Center.  The weekly meeting will consist of lectures, discussions, class brainstorming and student-led activities.  A range of open assignments, involving some independent study and research from library and internet sources will be the basis for students' interaction in class. "Open" means that assignments will not be collected for formal grading, but students will be expected to have worked on their own on such assignments to support their participation in class discussion, not unlike the way discussions may take place in research meetings.  There will be an individual or team final project (independent study), starting approximately at mid-term.  Final grade will be based on attendance, participation in the class discussion and the final paper reflecting the independent study.activities.

Instructor: Umberto Ravaioli (Senior Assistant Dean and Professor of ECE) - Office: 206 Engineering Hall 

There are no formal office hours for this class.  Please, contact the instructor by e-mail with any questions. Individual meetings may be scheduled if needed.


  • As students registered for this course you are expect to attend class regularly, to come to class prepared and to be on time.  If there are any conflicts that may prevent you from being punctual, please discuss with the instructor.  While an occasional absence should not be a problem, you should inform the instructor if you need to be absent for a prolonged period, whatever the reason.  
  • You are expected to participate in the discussions and to be engaged at all times. You may access electronic devices for the purpose to perform in class research but not for activities extraneous to the class.  
  • The class will require you to research a variety of materials and prepare a final paper on a topic of your choice.  Make sure to cite your sources.  Writings should be your own work. 

Term paper is due on or before 5:00pm, Wednesday May 10, 2016 

Turn in hard copy at the front desk in 206 Engineering Hall

The term paper takes the place of a final exam for this course

Recommendations for the term paper format:

§  Approximately 10 pages, double spaced (double-sided is OK to save paper)

§  Use figures, but sparingly.  

§  Have essential list of cited references at the end, approximately half a page to a page.  Choose a style for the references an d be consistent throughout

§  You may adopt the style template used by technical societies journal (e.g., IEEE, ASME, AIP).  This is a great learning process for the future.  However, keep in mind that 10 double space pages will be much less than 10 pages in the journal format

January 17, 2017

Introduction to the class. 

Open assignment 1: search for information on activities and faculty involved with nanotechnology in your home department.  This will be the basis for discussion next class.  Be prepared to discuss your findings and specific areas that caught your interest.  Perhaps you can look for additional information on what interests you (e.g. through a web search) and share with the class.

Brainstorming on space and time scales.  

Powers of 10 movie ( ) made in 1977 by the Office of Charles and Ray Eames (who were they? Nothing to do with nanotechnology but interesting to find out).

Open assignment 2: think about how things have changed in electronics over the years and how scaling has affected cost and performance (e.g., scaling of device sizes, memory size, frequency of operation, etc.)  Focus on a specific aspect and try to find some quantitative details from any source that you can find.  Be prepared to share your findings during the next class.  This will be the basis to start thinking about nanoelectronics.

January 24, 2017

Discussion and Brainstorming on previous open assignments.

Discussion on some resources online in the digital library - Magazines and journals

Open assignment 3: 


A) The original paper on Moore's law ("Electronics" April 19, 1965) 

This is a famous "archaeological artifact" from electronics history.  Look for information that may fit with material from Open assignment 2.

B) T.S. Perry "Intel's secret is out" IEEE Spectrum, April 1989, pp. 22-28.  Available in the digital library.  Information on what state-of-the-art computer chip technology was over 25 years ago.

C) T.S. Perry and G. Zorpette "Supercomputer experts predict expansive growth" IEEE Spectrum, February 1989, pp. 26-33.  How many of the computer companies mentioned in the article are still in business?

D) R. Coutland "Moore's law's next step: 10 nanometers" IEEE Spectrum, January 2017, pp. 52-53.  What margin is left to scale down transistors?

Open assignment 4: 

Watch the second episode of the PBS program NOVA Making Stuff series - "Making Stuff: Smaller".  This program aired locally a few years ago and it is accessible on line at

If you have difficulty connecting, it is also available on You Tube.  Focus on one aspect of the show that interests you the most and try to discover more.  Develop talking points or questions to bring up in class. There are also many interesting links to other nanotechnology topics that you may explore for discussion or inspiration for future activities. 

Open assignment 5

Read recent news on genetic engineering:

Write down your impressions and your reactions.  How do you feel about these accomplishments? What do you think could be the benefits and the dangers of this kind of research? Debate in class next time.

January 31, 2017

Discussion and Brainstorming on previous open assignments.

Semiconductor crystals. Overview of electronic device operation at the basis of nanoelectronics.


  • Demonstration of scalable carbon nanotube transistor by researchers at Peking University:

  • Graphene temporary tattoos:

Open Assignment 5: Read the transcripts of the famous lecture by Richard Feynman: "Plenty of Room at the Bottom" from December 1959: 
How can you relate the predictions of over 50 years ago to today's technology? What sizes is Feynman talking about? Do some simple calculations.  We will discuss in class. 

ASSIGNMENT (this is mandatory, not "open"): Go to the portal and obtain a free login.  Although you can consult the material without a login, you need it to run simulation tools.

Open Assignment 6: Browse the nanoHUB and look for material of interest that you may be able to report on in class. Try to get a good feeling of what kind of resources are available there.  These may be useful to you in the future. The nanoHUB is also connected with disciplinary nodes. What are the goals of these nodes? Explore:

Open Assignment 7: New Episode of NOVA is coming up on Wednesday February 1, 2017 on PBS

"Search for the Super Battery" -

What role can nanotechnology play?  Let's watch and discuss next time. WILL TV channel 12.1 will air the program first on 2/1/2017 at 8:00pm.  Video should be posted on the web site above, soon thereafter. Additional TV airing times are listed on the schedule for WILL TV (


February 7, 2017 

ANNOUNCEMENT: I am supposed to report for jury duty on the week of February 13, 2017.  As you may know, no electronics is allowed when serving in court.  

If discharged for February 14, I will post as early as possible a message indicating that class will take place.  If there is no message, assume that there is no class.  Additional material will be assigned if we miss class.

Class discussion on previous open assignments. 

More on Semiconductor crystal and electronic devices.

Some useful library sources:

Interesting Videos

The Fabrication of Integrated Circuits -

How Transistors Work - The MOSFET -

The FinFET Semiconductor Process -

The LED -

Quantum Computers Explained -

Open Assignment 8: The videos above summarize and expand on the class discussions about electronics.  Watch the videos and next time be prepared to "explain" in class "in your own words" how devices are made and how they work.  No penalty for mistakes or misunderstandings, but you have to try!


February 14, 2017 



Class discussion on previous open assignments. 

Assignment (Mandatory) - It is time to select a nanotechnology topic for self-study during the second half of the semester, leading to the completion of the class term paper.  Bring to class a brief proposal on one sheet of paper, with the following elements:

1) Name and UIN

2) Curriculum

3) Title of the Topic

4) Summary description of the topic

5) Reflections on why you are interested in the topic, why it is important, why it is interesting to you, implication for society, etc.

This is to be turned in.  Type and print, no handwritten material.

Open Assignment 9: Download the book: "Emerging Nanotechnologies for Manufacturing" edited by W. Ahmed and J.M. Jackson (2nd Edition - 2015)

Read Chapter 1 as an introduction.  Then select another chapter of your choice and find interesting talking point for next class

More free resources:

Downloadable monographs from Institute of Physics (U.K.):

Some tiles in this series specifically relevant to nanotechnology

  • Guide Through the Nanocarbon Jungle

  • Dynamical Properties in Nanostructured and Low-Dimensional Materials

  • Order from Force

  • Atoms and Photons and Quanta, Oh My!

  • Nanometrology Using the Transmission Electron Microscope

  • Introduction to Focused Ion Beam Nanometrology

  • Designing Hybrid Nanoparticles

  • Smart External Stimulus-Responsive Nanocarriers for Drug and Gene Delivery (2 volumes)

  • Optical Nanomanipulation

These titles may help you in selecting a topic of interest. 


February 21, 2017 

Collection of independent study proposals

Class discussion on previous open assignments. 

Open Assignment 10:

  • Read: "Transistors Could Stop Shrinking in 2021"

Select one of the following

  •  Read some additional chapter of interest to you in: "Emerging Nanotechnologies for Manufacturing"

  • Read: "2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS)"

Bring interesting observations to class.


February 28, 2017 

Class discussion on previous open assignments. 


  • Continue with the readings assigned earlier "Emerging Nanotechnologies for Manufacturing" and "2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS)"


Focus on gathering background material from a variety of sources as discussed in class until now.


March 7, 2017 

Class discussion on previous open assignments. 

Class Discussion: The Professional Trajectory, PART 1 - The James Scholar Honors program, timing and requirements.  Important stages to keep in mind to plan for graduate school, etc.  To be continued next week.

Funding opportunities for graduate school: Fellowship websites: (National Science Foundation), (National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships).  Other opportunities are coordinated by the National and International Scholarship Program on campus:

For those interested in computational science, the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship is another opportunity: 

Open Assignment 11:   Get familiar with the website which is the portal of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.  You will find things you have encountered before and hopefully something new to see nanotechnology in more global sense.  


March 14, 2017 

Class Discussion: The Professional Trajectory, PART 2 - Continuation from last time

Some recent advances in quantum computing:

and some reading for the more adventurous types:

M.I. Dyakonov, "State of the art and prospects for quantum computing" 

Download from:


March 29, 2017 

Class Discussion:

More on quantum computing in the news, this time from IBM:

For those interested, the book: 

"Space, Time and the Limits of Human Understanding" edited by S. Wuppuluri and G. Ghirardi

can be downloaded from our library

Two NOVA video series explore the quantum mechanical issues briefly discussed in class:

The Fabric of the Cosmos -

The Elegant Universe -

The last episodes of each series seem to be unavailable on the PBS website but they can be found on You Tube along with all other episodes.  


April 4, 2017 

Class Discussion on implications of quantum computing


April 11, 2017 

Class brainstorming - Needs that nanotechnology could satisfy - Research priorities

Open Assignment 12: Explore the Nanotechnology News section of the web portal Science Daily

This is a good source of news to keep updated on development in the field.  Bring to class for discussion at least one exciting piece of news that caught your attention.  We will go around the classroom and EVERY STUDENT will have to talk by presenting briefly about the chosen item.

Open Assignment 13: Read the article "Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides" by Michael Alley and Kathryn Neeley in Technical Communication, November 2005, pp. 417-426 (available on digital library - best way to get there: select "Advanced Search" and type title and first author's name.  It will come right up).  This paper discusses Assertion-Evidence slide design developed by Prof. Alley.  You may also consult the Web site below for more information:

Other useful reference material:

on preparations of research posters (NIH):


April 18, 2017 

Presentation on computational research in nanoelectronics/nanobioelectronics


April 25, 2017 

Continuation from last week: Presentation on computational research in nanoelectronics/nanobioelectronics

In the news:


April 25, 2017 

  • Conclusion of nanobioelectronics computational research presentation
  • Farewell

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