Learning at Legends
SCIENCE MEETS SPORTS PUB Students spend Tuesday night at the pub learning about nanotechnology, plasmonics and spintronics
A science event about nanotechnology isn’t something people would expect to find at a sports bar, but on Tuesday night at Legends, that is exactly what occurred.
The event was organized by the U’s branch of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers. Utah MRSEC is a group on campus that tries to increase interest in science for kids and students as well as conduct research. The group showed Nova’s film “Making Stuff: Smaller,” a documentary about the beginning of nanotechnology, the impact it has had and what can be expected from the field in the future.
Utah MRSEC has two specific fields other than nanotechnology — plasmonics and spintronics.
Plasmonics Research Group Director Ajay Nahata said a main goal of Utah MRSEC is to bring an interest in learning to all individuals who are curious about science and also to advance the research of the organization’s two main fields and show the ways they affect the everyday lives of people.
“We have two interdisciplinary research groups, one is in plasmonics and the other is in a topic called organic spintronics,” Nahata said. “[The idea behind plasmonics] is to explore new ideas for optics and new device technologies and new capabilities by looking at how light interacts with metals.
“The other project is in organic spintronics and that’s really looking at trying to develop new optical devices such as LEDs, photo detectors, etc. The goal really is to make lower power devices such as lower power displays. If you look at common displays today … they take a lot of power. Phone battery power disappears rather quickly during the course of a day, so what you’d like is to develop displays and other devices that use far less power,” he said.
Chelsey Short, MRSEC’s program coordinator, plans events such as the documentary showing in order to demonstrate that groundbreaking research and technologies are happening closer than many people might think. She said she hopes events like this will encourage students to get more involved in the sciences and realize the difficulties that U professors face.
“Anyone with an interest in nanotechnology would be interested in this series because they are talking about cutting-edge devices they’re developing,” Short said. “They’re talking about different ways to deliver medicine through tiny little nanorobots. I’m hoping our scientists here can shine some light on the challenges that comes on working on a nanoscale.”
The event was an opportunity for students to come and see researchers such as Nahata who work directly in some of the fields talked about in the documentary.
Natascha Knowlton, a physics and chemistry major, discussed one of her professors who uses photons in his research and experiments in a way that was talked about in the film. She said the event was a success.
“I thought it was a really good movie,” Knowlton said. “It gets you excited about science, and to see the researchers that are actually doing this kind of science at our school is really cool.”