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Schalmont teachers get a closer look at nanotechnology

More than 200 teachers from the Schalmont Central School District started the school year with an education in nanotechnology and its application in the world today.

The teachers hopped aboard district school buses for a trip to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany, Tuesday, Sept. 2, where they took part in a presentation by Vincent LaBella, associate professor of nanoscience, followed by a tour of the facility, which showed the college's clean rooms and high-tech equipment required for nanotechnology research.

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is the first site of its kind for research, development and education in nanotechnology. The $4.2 billion facility is located on Fuller Road in Albany.

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating matter at the atomic level.

Nanotechnology has a place in several real-world applications according to Kathleen Dunn, assistant professor for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Dunn said nanotechnology is used in car airbag sensors, to detect a quick change in electrical capacity, which would require the deployment of an airbag.

These applications impact our lives, Dunn said.

A transmission electron microscope, which is available for use by students and staff at the facility, can see the interior structure of an atom. Dunn used the example of bending a paper clip back and forth until it breaks. She said each time the paper clip is bent a defect is made, which eventually creates a web of defects causing the paper clip to break. She said the transmission electron microscope could be used to detect the defects in a structure.

Dunn said a large part of what the college does in the region is educate people on the types of jobs available in a research facilities like the one at the University at Albany. She said while there are jobs and a place for students who are interested in nanoscience and engineering, there are also jobs for students who are not inclined to work in these types of fields.

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