NANO AT HOME: An Experiment That You Can Try

click here for a pdf download of this experiment

PLEASE NOTE: The Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology (CNM) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) cannot guarantee the accuracy or the safety of these activities.  Some of these activities might pose safety hazards for young children, and all activities should be performed under the supervision of a responsible parent, teacher or adult. The CNM and UT-Austin do not assume any responsibility for these activities or their results.  If you have questions, corrections, or comments please do not hesitate to contact the CNM.

Keeping Clean for Nano: A Cubic Foot of Air

The production of many nanoscale devices requires a very clean environment. A single grain of dust can be enormous compared to the features of a nanoscale object.  Therefore, many devices must be produced in a cleanroom – a room where potential contamination is kept to a minimum.  To accomplish this, these rooms require such measures as filtered ventilation and special clothing for the occupants, all with the goal of minimizing dust.  Cleanrooms can be classified by the concentration of dust particles that is acceptable for the room’s air.  For example, a Class 100 cleanroom only allows 100 particles of dust per cubic foot of air that are greater than 500 nm in size, and a Class 1000 cleanroom only allows 1000 particles of dust per cubic foot of air that are greater than 500 nm in size.  In contrast, typical urban air has over 35 million particles of dust per cubic foot of air that are greater than 500 nm in size.

To illustrate this, you can make a cubic foot frame.  In the pictures we used metal rods and rubber balls, but you can use all sorts of materials.  The pictures show the cubic foot frame in a Class 1000 cleanroom and a dusty loading dock.