FYI Fall 2018
Technological Grand Challenges
George Lisensky
Lincoln Budasi
First Half

New Student Days

Aug 21 Grand Challenges for Engineering
Moore’s Law and 14 nm technology.
Aug 22 Are Things Getting Better or Worse?, New Yorker, July 23, 2018
Evaluating Sources
Aug 23 World Happiness Report 2018. See Chapter 2 and online data.
On Looking photos
Aug 24 Lab: Superhydrophobic Surfaces and background information.

Link to this page

Semester Assignments

Tuesday 10-11:50
Thursday 10-11:50
Aug 28 Reaction paper 1 due: All

Flynn, "Soul of the City" in Nanotech Chronicles
Peterson and Heller, "Nanotech Promise", in Nanoethics

In class: Superhydrophobic Applications

What is our list of technological grand challenges? Begin to keep a list in your notes.
Grand Challenges for Engineering, National Academy of Engineering (2008).
Grand Challenges and Great Opportunities in Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Gilbert S. Omenn, Science, 314 1696-1704 (2006).
Five Grand Ideas That WIll Shape This Century, BBC (2017)
Grand Challenges for Global Health and Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2018).
XPRIZE Competitions (2018)
Centennial Challenges, NASA (2018)
Aug 30 Lab: Microfluidics. We will use the sample files rather than designing our own paths.
Skim background, patent, and profile
Sept 4

Discussion Leaders: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince
Reaction paper 2a due: Filip, Minh Quan, Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue, Luke, Matthew, Kiet

How We Got to Now: Glass

Read: “Spiderman gloves,” Nanotoday, Oct 2008, pages 35-41.
Video: Gecko Superheroes (2008, Science Channel Weird Connections)
Video: Stickybot (2006, Stanford University)
Video: Stickybot III (2010, Stanford University)
Video: Real Spider-Man Wall-Crawling (2014, Science Friction Episode 19 on youtube)
Read: GeckSkin named one of top five science breakthroughs of 2012, U Mass Amherst
Video: Mark Cutkosky: New ways of thinking about things (2013)
Video: Tiny robots carry up to 2,000 times their own weight (2015, Stanford University or youtube or BBC)
Video: Micro robot climbs vertical glass carrying 100 times its weight (2015, Stanford University or youtube)
Video: Grippy, not sticky (2015, Stanford University or youtube)
Video: Gecko Gripper (2015, Jet Propulsion Lab or youtube)
Video: A robotic gripper for cleaning up space debris (2017, Stanford University or youtube)
Video: Gecko Stitches (2008, ScienCentral or youtube)
Video: Gecko Adhesive System (2012, University of Akron or youtube)
Video: DIY gecko tape - work in progress (2016, Applied Science, youtube)
Read: Production line for gecko-inspired adhesive, Chemistry World, Feb 2018.

In class: Lists

Sept 6 Lab: Microfluidics. Experiment with pump or syringe. Look at other patterns as needed for the question answers.
Sept 11 Discussion Leaders: Filip, Minh Quan
Reaction paper 2b due: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince, Dasha, Tenajh, J, Michael, Christopher, Sasha

How We Got to Now: Cold
Video: Liquid Nitrogen Trucks BBC Earth (2018)

Digital Storage
Audio: Cheap Memory, NPR, January 22, 2012
Video: 3D XPoint Announcement (2015) or Intel
Video: 3D XPoint Memory Technology (2015) or Intel
Video: Amazon Cloud Cam (2018)
Read: You're being watched, The Guardian (2011)
Read: One surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, The Independent (2013)
Read: One nation under CCTV: the future of automated surveillance, Wired (2015), and video or youtube
Read: Briefcam's algorithms can spot murderers and monitor bees, Wired (2017), and video or youtube
Read: Code of Practice, UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner (2014)
Read: Why the Future of Data Storage is (Still) Magnetic Tape (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 28 Aug 2018

Video: How this 50-year-old NASA material could kill cancer, Verge, June, 2018
Video: Nanoparticle Platform, 2014
Video: Arsenic Removal, 2006

In class: Boston, Cold, Electrons and Magnetism
Sept 13 MEET IN CLASSROOM for Social Identities Exercise

Lab: Ferrofluid (We will not do the XRD option.)
Sept 18 Discussion Leaders: Dasha, Tenajh, J
Reaction paper 3a due: Filip, Minh Quan, Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue, Luke, Matthew, Kiet

How We Got to Now: Sound

Gold Nanoparticles
Read: “Nanoparticles Probe Biosystems,” Materials Today, Feb 2004, 36-43.
Profile: Chad Mirkin (2009) or youtube
Profile: Chad Mirkin: Gold Nanoparticles & The Future of Medical Diagnostics (2012) or youtube
Video: Gold Nanoparticles or NOVA "Making Stuff: Smaller" (2011) or youtube

Profile: Naomi Halas, Interview and Video, PBS Nova (2005) or youtube
Video: Gold Nanoshells, Synthesis and Demonstration (2009) or youtube
Video: Synthesis of Hollow Gold Nanospheres (2010) or youtube
Read: Rice team achieves a cancer milestone, Houston Chronicle, November 2012
Read: Using Gold Nanoparticles to Kill Cancer, Physics Central, APS, April 2016 or movie
Read: Exploding nanobubbles can kill cancer cells, Science, AAAS, February 2016
Video: Researchers Look To Gold To Help Combat Prostate Cancer, Mount Sinai Health System (2018) or youtube

Read: Liposuction Goes Nano, C&E News, June 16, 2014, 32-33.
Skim: Gold Nanoparticle-assisted Selective Photothermolysis of Adipose Tissue, Plast. Reconstr. Surg. Global Open, December 2014, 2(12) e283 or pdf

Video: Gold particles have a new use – finding defects in 3D printing (2018) or youtube

In class: Metal Nanoparticle Synthesis, Sonic Visualizer
Sept 20 Lab: Gold Nanoparticles (both methods)
Sept 25 Discussion Leaders: Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue
Reaction paper 3b due: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince, Dasha, Tenajh, J, Michael, Christopher, Sasha

How We Got to Now: Clean

Read: “Smart, Clean Surfaces,” Materials Today, Nov 2003, pages 43-48.
Video: Lotus Effect (2011) or Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Video: Nasturtium Leaves (2013)

Read: "Titanium dioxide: environmental white knight?" Environmental Health Perspectives, Apr 2001, page A174-8.
Read: “Self-Cleaning Glass,” from The Naked Scientists (2009)
Video: Self-Cleaning Buildings (2012) or EU Research Media Center or youtube
Video: Smog-Eating Buildings (2013) or CNN or youtube.
Video: Reduce Building Maintenance (2015) or CeramiClean or youtube

Video: Water filter (2015) or youtube
Video: Filtering Drinking Water with Nanofibers (2016) from MIT Technology Review or youtube.
Video: Free Water, GE Focus Forward (2013) or vimeo
Video: Amsoil Air Filter

Video: The Invisible Bicycle Helmet (2012, GE Focus Forward or vimeo) or Hövding

In class: Metal Oxides
Sept 27 International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium at Northwestern University

Off-campus Study Fair 11:00-1:00 in atrium
Oct 2 Discussion Leaders: Michael, Christopher, Sasha
Reaction paper 4a due: Filip, Minh Quan, Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue, Luke, Matthew, Kiet

How We Got to Now: Time
Video: How an Atomic Clock Works (2012) or Engineer Guy or youtube
Video: Netflix Same Day Home Delivery (2014) or youtube

Smart Materials
Read: “Chromogenic Smart Materials,” Materials Today, March 2004, pages 28-35.
Read: “How Smart Windows Work,” from How Stuff Works or pdf
Video: Mercedes-Benz Magic Sky Control or youtube (2014) or youtube (2016)
Read: “The Time For ThermochromicsMaterials Today, Nov 2008, page 11.
Video: Photochromic Lenses (2014) or youtube
Video: SmartGlass Animation (2013) or youtube
Video: Liquid Crystal Window (2017) or Merck licrivision or youtube
Read: “Smart Materials - Building Blocks for a Sustainable FutureGermany Trade and Investment, 2016 (pdf).

Read: “Textiles gain intelligence,Materials Today, Oct 2003, pages 38-43.
Video: Smart Clothing (2013), Jonathan Stickland, Forward Thinking or youtube
Read: “Nanotechnology in Textiles, ACS Nano, 10(3), 3042-3068 (2016)

Video: NiTi wire (2012) or youtube
Video: Orthodontic NiTi use (2010) or youtube
Video: Stone Retrieval (2016) or Endosmart Medical Nitinol Solutions or youtube
Video: Chainmail Tire (2017) or youtube or NASA
Video: Flexon Eyeglasses (2018) or youtube or Marchon
Video: Shape Memory Textiles (2011), Mariëlle Leenders or youtube
Video: Artificial Muscles (2011), "Making Stuff" with David Pogue, NOVA or youtube
Video: Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm (2012) or MIT or youtube
Video: What is molecular self-assembly? SciToons (2018) or youtube
Video: It's Not Magic: Watch How Smart Parts Self-Assemble (2014), Bloomberg Television or youtube
Video: Carbon-paper that walks (2015)

In class: NiTi Memory Metal
Oct 4 Lab: Heat Training of NiTi

Oct 9 Discussion Leaders: Luke, Matthew, Kiet
Reaction paper 4b due: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince, Dasha, Tenajh, J, Michael, Christopher, Sasha

How We Got to Now: Light
Video: What is Light? (2017) or youtube

Liquid Crystals
Read: “History and Properties of Liquid Crystals” from (2003)
Read: “Fats, Oils, & Colors of a Nanoscale Material,Science Teacher, Dec 2006, pages 30-35.
Read: “Liquid Crystals” from Wikipedia
Read: “Liquid Crystal Sensors,” Platypus Technologies (2016)
Read: “Principles for Measurement of Chemical Exposure Based on Recognition-Driven Anchoring Transitions in Liquid Crystals,Science, 293, 1296-1299 (2001).

Read: “Liquid crystals and the origin of life, Phys.Org, Oct. 3, 2018

Read: “How RCA Lost the LCD” or IEEE Spectrum, Nov 2012
Video: LCD Monitor Technique Animation (2010) or youtube
Video: LCD Flat Panel TV (2009), Deconstructed or youtube
Video: LCD Monitor Teardown (2011), Bill Hammack or youtube
Video: Liquid Crystals Sensors (2016), UW-Madison MRSEC or youtube

October 9 is National Nanotechnology Day. How about a 100 Billion Nanometer Dash?

In class: Liquid Crystals
Midterm Survey
Oct 11 Lab: Cholesteryl Ester Liquid Crystals
Background: Colors in Liquid Crystals

Second Half
MIDTERM Be sure to start reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (pdf download) or Victor LaValle's Destroyer (read online) for October 30.    
Oct 23 Solar
Read: “Power from the sun,” spie oemagazine, April 2003, pages 24-27.
Read: “Flexible solar cells for clothing,” Materials Today, June 2006, pages 42-50.
Read: “Inorganic Photovoltaic Cells,” Materials Today, November 2007, pages 20-27.
Read: “Who Pays for Grid Expansions When Homeowners Generate Their Own Electricity?,” or IEEE Spectrum, 23 Jan 2014
Read: “Perovskite Solar Cell Bests Bugbears, Reaches Record Efficiency,” or IEEE Spectrum, 7 Jan 2015
Read: “Millions of Chinese-Made Solar Panels,” Pacific Standard, 30 Jun 2015
Read: “Ultrathin Solar Cells for Lightweight and Flexible Applications,” or IEEE Spectrum, 26 Aug 2015
Read: “Graphene and Perovskite Lead to Inexpensive and Highly Efficient Solar Cells,” or IEEE Spectrum, 8 Sept 2015
Read: “Will Nanophotonics Save Solar Power Tech?,” or IEEE Spectrum, 14 Apr 2016
Read: “Perovskites Become More Stable,” or IEEE Spectrum, 29 Sept 2016
Read: “Tesla to launch solar roofs,” C&E News, 7 Nov 2016
Read: “Rural Rwanda is home to a pioneering new solar power idea, BBC (2017)
Read: “Gold Nanomaterials Make Photoelectrode Shine Bright,” or IEEE Spectrum, 18 Sep 2018

Video: Solar Nanopaint (2007), Nova or youtube
Video: CuInGaSSe (2007), History Channel or youtube
Video: Doughnut solar cell (2009) or youtube
Video: Solar Roadways, GE Focus Forward (2012)
Video: Sandpoint's Solar Roadways to Go Live, KREM (2016)
Video: Missouri Department of Transportation Road to Tomorrow (2016) or youtube
Video: Dan Nocera, The Artificial Leaf, GE Focus Forward (2012) and C&EN (2011)
Video: Ta'u Microgrid, Solar City (2016) or youtube
Video: Tesla Solar Roof, Bloomberg (2017) or youtube
Video: Why Tesla is building city-sized batteries, Verge, August, 2018

In class: Solar Power
Oct 25 Lab: Titanium Dioxide Raspberry Solar Cell
Oct 30 Frankenstein and Beyond, Wilson Theatre in Mayer Hall, 10-11. Read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (pdf download) or Victor LaValle's Destroyer (read online). Meet in SC Atrium before 9:55.

Further discussion and Being Here planning
Oct 28 Portal essays due
Oct 31 Advising Practicum
Meet in classroom at 9:00
Nov 1 Work on Being Here videos.
You should bring a title and a sentence about your topic, a way to quantify the problem and who it affects, a solution, and some images or video clips. By the end of class you should submit an abstract and have a script.
Nov 6 Discussion Leaders: Isreal, Prince, Tenajh, Michael, Sasha
Persuasive Paper 1a due: Filip, Minh Quan, Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue, Luke, Matthew, Kiet

Read: “Nanowire Sensors,” Materials Today, April 2005, pages 20-28.
Read: “Smelling chemicals with a photonic nose,” SPIE (2011).
Read: “Explosive used in Brussels isn't hard to detect,” (pdf) C&E News, March 29, 2016
Read: “Stretchy, Solar-Powered Sensor Detects Heartbeats,” or IEEE Spectrum, 4 Oct 2018
Read: New Wearable Sensor Detects Stress Hormone in Sweat (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 20 Jul 2018
Video: Nano Artificial Nose (2011), Technion or youtube
Video: Nano Nose (2012), EU Research Media Center or youtube
Audio: “Can Drug-Sniffing Dog Prompt Home Search?” (2012) or pdf or NPR
Video: Lab on a chip (2014), Johns Hopkins University or youtube
Video: The future of medicine is inside these chips (2015), Wyss Institute and .Mic or youtube
Video: LogicInk Tatoos (2018)

In class: Sensors
Nov 8 Planning for Help Yourself
(meet in classroom)
Tips for Engaging Visitors, NISENET

Nov 10 Saturday, 9:30am, Help Yourself

Nov 13 Discussion Leaders: Minh Quan, Brice, Luke, Kiet
Persuasive Paper 1b due: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince, Dasha, Tenajh, J, Michael, Christopher, Sasha

Read: “CNT-Reinforced Ceramics and Metals,” Materials Today, Nov 2004, 44-49.
Video: Polymer Nanotube Composites, Arkema (2009)
Video: Blacker than black or NASA (2010) or youtube
Video: Carbon Nanotubes or NOVA "Making Stuff: Stronger" (2011) or youtube
Video: Spinning Carbon Nanotubes or CSIRO (2005) or youtube
Video: Space Elevator (2007) or PBS Nova or youtube
Video: Space Elevator interview with Michio Kaku (2011) or Daily Show or youtube
Video: Spinning nanotube fibers or Rice University (2014) or youtube
Video: Drawing carbon nanotubes on paper, MIT (2012) or youtube
Video: Graphene Revolution or GRAFOID (2015) or youtube
Video: Victor Badminton Rackets (2014) or youtube
Video: CNT Touch-screen (2011) or youtube
Video: Touch-screens from graphene (2015) or youtube
Read: “Challenges and opportunities for graphene as transparent conductors in optoelectronics,” Nano Today, Dec 2015, 681-700.
Read: IBM Pushes Beyond 7 Nanometers (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 8 Oct 2018
Video: FooMext Vest (2017)
Video: Why graphene hasn't taken over the world...yet, Verge, July, 2018
Video: Ultracapacitors (2010)
Video: The Super Supercapacitor, GE Focus Forward (2012)
Read: CNT capacitors (2012)

In class: Being Here Videos due
In class: Carbon
Nov 15 Oral Reports from International Symposium
Nov 20 Being Here Festival (to share who are, what you have learned, and how it matters to you and others.) Meet in SC Atrium. Nov 22 Thanksgiving
Nov 27 Discussion leaders: Lombardo, Dasha, J, Christopher
Persuasive Paper 2a due: Filip, Minh Quan, Stephanie, Brice, Mingyue, Luke, Matthew, Kiet

Water and Food
Read: Is the world running out of fresh water?, BBC (2017)
Read: Tapping H2O from thin air, BBC (2017) and audio
Read: The future of food and agriculture, UN FAO (2016). At a glance copy, Summary copy, Full report copy
Read: Hacking the Flavor of Food With Electric Chopsticks (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 31 Jul 2018
Read: How Solar-Powered, Mobile Water Purifiers Can Help Cities Cope With Bad Water (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 18 Oct 2018
Read: Plant Wearables and Airdropped Sensors Could Sow Big Data Seeds (pdf) or IEEE Spectrum, 10 Sep 2018
Video: A Glacier in the Desert, GE Focus Forward (2012)
Video: A new approach to water desalination, MIT (2012) or youtube
Video: Molecular Sensor or SCIO by Consumer Physics or youtube (2014)
Video: Peanut Sensor or NIMA or youtube (2018)

In class: Antibacterial silver
Nov 29 Meet in classroom
What is your summary list of Technological Grand Challenges?
Class Evaluations
Dec 4 Discussion Leaders: Filip, Stephanie, Mingyue, Matthew
Persuasive Paper 2b due: Isreal, Lombardo, Prince, Dasha, Tenajh, J, Michael, Christopher, Sasha

Jerry Oltion, “Park Rules” in Nanodreams (1995).
Chesley, “Early Applications,” and Henson, “Trivial Uses,” and McKendree, “Nanotech Hobbies,” in Global Abundance (1996).
"Drexler and Smalley make the case for and against 'molecular assemblers'," C&E News, (2003)
Make Your Own World With Programmable Matter,” or IEEE Spectrum, 27 May 2014
Nanomotor rotates microscale objects,” Nature, 440(6) 163 (2006), Nobel Prize 2016
How molecules became machines,” Nobel Prize 2016
Light pushes liquid uphill,” physicsworld, Sept 2016
The Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence,” or Harvard Business Review, 17 November 2016
Video: Replicator, Star Trek Enterprise (2002)
Animation: Productive Nanosystems (2005), by Eric Drexler and John Burch or youtube
Video: Self-Assembling Nanoliter Containers (2008), Gracias Lab at Johns Hopkins University or youtube or longer version
Animations: Molecular Machinery Gallery (2011), Nanorex
Animation: DNA Sequencer (2011), Pacific Biosciences or youtube
Animation: DNA Sequencer (2013), Pacific Biosciences or youtube
Video: Programmable self-assembly in a thousand-robot swarm (2014), Harvard or Science or youtube
Video: Nobel Prize in Chemistry Explained (2016), C&E News or youtube
Video: Shape-shifting Display, MIT Media Lab (2013) or Fast Company or VIMEO
Video: Liquid Printing, MIT Self-Assembly Lab (2017) or Designboom

Course Description

Grand Challenges are difficult but important societal problems needing technological innovation as part of the solution. This seminar will ask you to identify specific goals in the areas of energy, water, health, and food and to see what new technologies might possibly address those goals. What is the problem, who does it affect, what solutions have been proposed, and what are the technological, economic, cultural, or governmental barriers to implementation? Such technologies will be promising areas to expand knowledge, create jobs, and tackle what needs to be done to sustainably improve the quality of life for everyone.

This seminar will include frequent laboratory experiences as we investigate possible solutions to difficult problems. As in most courses, absences will affect both your class participation and overall grade. This course is cumulative. Lack of preparation before class or lack of serious participation in class means you will need to do extra hours of work to catch up on your own. Late work will generally not be accepted. See me ahead of time in case of special circumstances.

If you have a disability and would like to speak to someone about possible accommodations, please visit the Learning Enrichment and Disability Services Office located on 2nd floor Pearsons (north side), 608-363-2572 or email or make an appointment through If you wish to receive accommodations in this class, please provide the Access Letter as soon as possible so your learning needs may be appropriately met. Free peer tutoring is available for most classes. For a tutor, apply by going to your Portal, to the Student Life tab, and then apply using the Tutoring Forms (on left) and Request a Tutor. If you have any questions, contact Learning Enrichment and Disability Services.

Basis of evaluation

• Class participation in discussions and labs. You are expected to contribute at least once to every discussion. Labs will have questions to hand in for grading.
• Six papers (a 2-3 page paper every other week) based on assigned readings or events. See Submitting Google Classroom Assignments
• Preparation for and leadership of the technical discussion for one Tuesday during each half of the semester (done in groups). You should look up and prepare additional material. Feel free to be creative in your leadership and plans for the class.
• Sharing of science experiments with Help Yourself participants (November 10) and a written reflection of that process.
• Report from Beloit International Symposium (November 14).
• During the semester keep a list of Technological Grand Challenges that you think are important.
• A cumulative project and presentation at the Being Here Festival.


How We Got to Now : Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson, Penguin (2014).
Nanoethics, Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor, John Weckert, Wiley (2007)
The Nanotech Chronicles, Michael Flynn, Simon and Schuster (1991).
Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds, David. H. Guston, Ed Finn, and Jason S. Robert , MIT Press (2017)
Destroyer, Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith, and Joana Lafuente (2018)

Lab Manual for Nanoscale Science and Technology (2018).
Materials Today, Elsevier
Nanotechnology news stories, PhysOrg

G. Lisensky, Nanotechnology FYI, Last modified December 1, 2018