The National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth) hosted four undergraduate students and one professor from Concord University for a morning of speakers and tours. NanoEarth’s Deputy Director Marc Michel, Ph.D. explained that having an awareness of nanotechnology tools and knowledge can positively impact their future careers. Virginia Tech (VT) Graduate School Admissions and Academic Advisor Jenn Million, CPACC, discussed the different graduate programs available, funding opportunities, life in Blacksburg, and the application process.

The students and staff then toured the VT Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (NCFL). NanoEarth’s Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) Specialist Charis Horn, Ph.D. showed images of graphite on a TEM, explored how the TEM operates, and explained the importance of nanoscience careers. The VT Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Laboratory (VT SuN) Director Weinan Leng, Ph.D. led participants through an X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) demonstration, showing how the XPS works and what research can be done. NCFL Instrument Specialist Steve McCartney discussed the techniques of the IT500 Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and the attached Oxford Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), while looking at data from a previous environmental project. McCartney also showed participants the Focused Ion Beam (FIB) and explained the type of research completed on it. NanoEarth’s Postdoctoral Associate Bipin Lade, Ph.D. discussed the release of micro-nanoplastics in disposable coffee cups and aluminum water cans. He also led students through NanoDays Kits exploring nano fabric and ferrofluid to understand how changing the nanoscale structure affects the macro scale properties that can be seen.