Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

What Is Nanotechnology?

EE 21N
Please note: This seminar has an updated weekly schedule (W/F).
High school math, physics, and chemistry.

Nanotechnology means different things to different people. Although those in the science and engineering world have some notion of what nanotechnology is, the perception from society at large may be entirely different. In this course, we start with the classic paper by Richard Feynman "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," which laid down a challenge to the nanotechnologists. We will introduce students to the tools of nanotechnologists and the basic elements of nanoscale science and engineering such as nanotubes, nanowires, nanoparticles, and self-assembly. We will visit nanotechnology laboratories to consolidate our learning, go into the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF), and do a three-week project on nanofabrication. Hands-on laboratory work will be introduced (e.g., lithography, seeing things at the nanoscale using electron microscopes). We will learn how to build transistors from scratch and test them. We will discuss the classic novel Prey, by Michael Crichton. Crichton's popular novel channeled the public's attention to this subject by portraying a disastrous scenario of a technology gone astray. We will use scientific knowledge to analyze the assumptions and predictions of such works. 


Meet the Instructor(s)

H.-S. Philip Wong

"The entire Internet is based on things that are really small—nanometer scale electronic devices that are the basis of computer chips. How are today's computer chips made? For 16 years before coming to Stanford as a professor, I did research at IBM on making computer chips. What will tomorrow's computer chips be made of? This is the question I want to get answers to for my research at Stanford. Here's a short video that provides some hints. Some time ago, someone posed this question to me: 'What comes after the computer chip?' Having spent most of my career on advancing semiconductor technology, which is the physical foundation of the computer chip, I find this question worth thinking about. So I wrote this blog on Slate."

Professor Wong is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Professor Wong is also the producer of a widely viewed educational video on carbon nanotubes on YouTube.