Fundamentals of Nanotechnology I

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHY 140

       Course Name: Fundamentals of Nanotechnology I

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

MAT 070 or placement into MAT 110, and one year of high school biology and one year of high school chemistry.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces nanoscience and nanotechnology, incorporating topics in physics, chemistry and biology at the nanoscale.  These include forces, fluidics, atoms and molecules, nanoscale structures and biological function at the nanoscale.  Practical nanotechnology applications of pharmaceutical biotechnology and drug delivery will be highlighted that are relevant to local industry. Hands-on laboratory activities make use of dip-pen nanolithography, atomic force microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and nanoparticle characterization.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Express numerically the sizes of objects that are nanoscale.
  2. Identify the four fundamental forces and describe the roles they play at the nanoscale.
  3. Apply scientific notation, unit conversion and dimensional analysis correctly when solving problems in nanotechnology.
  4. Explain how volume and surface area of particles are related and apply the appropriate equations for surface area and volume for various shapes.
  5. Explain the basic operation, uses, advantages and disadvantages of the various instruments used to image, characterize and fabricate at the nanoscale.
  6. Relate the basic structure of atoms and molecules, according to quantum physics, to the various physical and chemical properties of liquids and solids.
  7. Describe the electromagnetic spectrum and explain how energy, wavelength and frequency are related.
  8. Explain the structure of the periodic table of the elements and how it is related to properties of atoms including size, electron affinity, ionization energy and electronegativity.
  9. Compare and contrast the various ways that atoms and molecules bond.
  10. Identify the various pharmaceutical/drug delivery nanoparticles and how they are being used for diagnostic and/or therapeutic applications.
  11. Compare and contrast the basic structure of DNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.
  12. Describe the basic components of the cell and their sizes.
  13. Evaluate the various global uses of nanotechnology including medical nanomaterials, food and agriculture, water purification, energy production and storage, and information technology.
  14. Explain how drug incorporation into nanoparticles is controlled by their structure and physicochemical properties and linked to the in vitro/in vivo performance of nanopharmaceuticals.
  15. Interpret Safety Data Sheets and explain laboratory safety procedures and regulations.
  16. Explain the various social issues related to nanotechnology such as public health and safety, and environmental health and safety.
  17. Demonstrate proficiency in operating the following instrumentation: the NLP 2000 dip-pen nanolithography machine, an atomic force microscope, a fluorescence microscope, and a qNano particle characterization device.

General Education Learning Outcomes:

Think Critically – identify, define, analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, concepts, information, problems, solutions, and consequences. This includes the ability to compute and comprehend quantitative information and to engage in the scientific process.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. The Nanoscale and History of Nanoscience
    1. What is nanoscience?
    2. The history of the use of nanoscience.
    3. Richard Feynman’s speech.
    4. The scientific process.
    5. A sense of scale.
  2. Mathematics at the Nanoscale
    1. Prefixes and units of measure.
    2. Significant figures.
    3. Scientific notation.
    4. Surface verses volume.
    5. Unit conversions.
    6. Density and pressure.
    7. The fundamental forces at different scales.
  3. Laboratory Safety and Regulations
    1. Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
    2. FDA regulations.
    3. Working in the lab, clothing, gloves and goggles.
    4. Chemical handling and disposal.
    5. Taking notes in the lab and writing reports.
    6. When to use a hood.
  4. Tools of Nanoscience
    1. Optical microscopes.
    2. Atomic Force Microscope.
    3. Dip-pen Nanolithography.
    4. qNano particle characterization.
    5. Scanning electron microscope.
    6. Dynamic Light scattering and laser diffraction.
  5. Nanophysics
    1. Forces and Interactions.
    2. Fluidics.
    3. The wave nature of light and the electromagnetic spectrum.
    4. The particle nature of light – photoelectric effect.
    5. Quantum physics and energy quantization – particle in a box and quantum dots.
  6. Nanochemistry
    1. The Periodic Table.
    2. Atomic orbitals – the Hydrogen atom.
    3. Bonding.
    4. Intermolecular forces.
    5. Structures.
  7. Nanobiology
    1. Proteins.
    2. DNA.
    3. Viruses.
    4. Cells.
    5. Biological quantum dots.
  8. Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
    1. Overview of key technologies and products
    2. Drug Development Phases
    3. Nanotechnology Value Chain
    4. Commercializing Bionanotechnology
  9. Societal Impact of Nanotechnology
    1. Nanotechnology Around the World.
    2. Societal Issues in Nanotechnology.
    3. Regulations Affecting Nanotechnology.

Laboratory Exercises: A minimum of ten laboratory activities will be conducted including several from the following list:

  1. How Smooth Is Smooth at the Nanoscale?
  2. Leveling the Playing Field: Humans and Machines Working Together at the Nanoscale.
  3. Going with the Flow: Fluidics and the Forces at Work at the Micro- and Nanoscales.
  4. Reflecting on Light: Creating Patterns and Diffraction Gratings at the Nanoscale.
  5. The Ties That Bind: Creating Chemical Structures Such as Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAMs) on Surfaces.
  6. Molecular Detection Using DNA: Creating a Bio-sensor with DNA Arrays.
  7. qNano Nanoparticle characterization.
  8. Etching at the Nanoscale.
  9. Basic operation of the scanning electron microscope.
  10. Physicochemical characterization: particle size, zeta potential, in vitro drug release, stability upon storage.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Daily activities may include lecture, group problem solving, group lab activities, demonstrations, discussions and videos.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. The required readings will include chapters from various textbooks, laboratory manual or handouts, and selected material supplied by the instructor.
  2. Laboratory practice includes correct setup of the apparatus, performing the experiment, collecting and analyzing the data. Laboratory notebooks will be used to record data and observations as experiments are being performed. Formal laboratory reports may be required.
  3. Microsoft Excel and other data entry and analysis software will be used.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

“Introduction to Nanoscale Science and Technology,” the NanoProfessor by NanoInk, Inc., 2010

“Nanotechnology: Understanding Small Systems,” third edition, by Rogers, Pennathur and Adams, CRC Press, 2014

Laboratory Manual:    “Student Lab Guide,” the NanoProfessor by NanoInk, Inc., 2010 and instructor provided handouts

Supplemental handouts

Any scientific calculator such as a TI-83, TI-89, etc.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grades will be based on performance on quizzes and exams, successful completion of homework questions, and quality of lab work including correctly operating the equipment and accurately presenting lab results via a written or oral lab report.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.