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As nanotechnology leads the pack in the techo-world, Western is gearing up to make “nanotech” an integral part of its science programs.

According to Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Chris Yen, Western is incorporating the study of nanotechnology by branching out in several areas, including the development of several courses on the subject. Nanotechnology is the study of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Yen said the technology generally deals with the development of new advanced materials in nanoscale. The first course, "Introduction to Nanotechnology," is scheduled to be offered for in spring 2012, with more courses being added in both the biology and chemistry departments.

Thanks to a federal grant from the Department of Energy, the university’s chemistry department will soon purchase a Raman spectrometer. Named after Indian physicist C.V. Raman, who earned a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Raman effect, the instrument is important to researchers in identifying molecules and material.

The grant was awarded to the Connecticut State University System to be used to advance nanotechnology education at all four state universities. The CSUS is promoting continued growth in this area and hopes to have all four institutions share in a comprehensive program. While equipment and other courses will be implemented at the other universities, Western will be the only one with a Raman spectrometer.

“Nanotubes and nanowires are an essential element to next-generation solar cells and solar-to-fuel conversion,” Yen said. “In order to show and further study these nanotubes and their properties to students, we need the Raman spectrometer. Nano is the future of technology, and we need to stay on top of that.”

WCSU also participated in the 18th Annual Connecticut Microelectronics and Optoelectronics Consortium on March 16, 2011, in New Haven. Discourse included nanoelectronics and nanophotonics, and technological industry giants such as United Technologies and Pitney Bowes also participated.

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Digging Deeper

Nanotechnology is now being studied at Western.