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IEEE Educational Activities​ is excited to announce the #IEEELessonsInAction campaign to excite and inspire pre-university educators about their implementation of IEEE’s 130+ free engineering, computing, and technology lesson plans at TryEngineering.org, TryComputing.org, and TryNano.org. We are asking teachers, home-school educators, afterschool programs, and any other organizations that support pre-university STEM education to actively participate in this campaign by taking photos of their IEEE lesson plans in action and sharing their photos on social media using the hashtag #IEEELessonsInAction.  We’ll be watching to see what you share and select inspiring submissions to feature on our websites and social media channels. On an ongoing basis we’ll also vote for the top entries, and the winner will receive a certificate and an iPad mini for their classroom! For more info about #IEEELessonsInAction, visit http://bit.ly/IEEELessonsInAction.

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An illustration shows a nanocar design by scientists at Rice University. The first nanocars, invented at Rice, consisted of a chassis, two axles and four wheels, all part of a single molecule. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Rice University will send an entry to the first international NanoCar Race, which will be held next October at Pico-Lab CEMES-CNRS in Toulouse, France. No one will see this miniature grand prix, at least not directly. But cars from five teams, including a collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and scientists at the University of Graz, Austria, will be viewable through sophisticated microscopes developed for the event. Time trials will determine which nanocar is the fastest, though there may be head-to-head races with up to four cars on the track at once, according to organizers. A nanocar is a single-molecule vehicle of 100 or so atoms that incorporates a chassis, axles and freely rotating wheels. Each of the entries will be propelled across a custom-built gold surface by an electric current supplied by the tip of a scanning electron microscope. The track will be cold at 5 kelvins (minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a vacuum. Rice’s entry will be a new model and the latest in a line that began when Tour and his team built the world’s first nanocar more than 10 years ago. The race was first proposed in a 2013 ACS Nano paper by Christian Joachim, a senior researcher at CNRS, and Gwénaël Rapenne, a professor at Paul Sabatier University. Joining Rice are teams from Ohio University; Dresden University of Technology; the National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan; and Paul Sabatier. 

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Professor Novoselov addressing the audience at the University of Manchester.

The University of Manchester launched a £50,000 enterprise competition for students with new graphene ideas at a staff event attended by more than 500 people. The event was held to showcase and appeal for new ideas for graphene, a wonder material that is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material with the potential to revolutionise a huge number of diverse applications; from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to drug delivery and computer chips. Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov isolated graphene at the University in 2004 and were awarded the 2010 Nobel prize in Physics. The University is building the £61 million National Graphene Institute to develop the material. A packed audience in University Place heard from a range of graphene researchers, including Professor Novoselov, about the key sectors that graphene can potentially revolutionise.  The 2013 competition is open to final year PhD students and Postdoctoral Research Associates at the University. It will be awarded to the candidate who can demonstrate outstanding potential in establishing a new enterprise related to graphene and who now wishes to embark on an entrepreneurial career in innovation and commercialisation. Applications will be judged on the strength of their business plan to develop a new graphene-related business.

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Angela Zang.(Image Source: Siemens Foundation)

2011's highest science honor for high school students was awarded recently to biochemistry research on cancer stem cells the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, America’s premier science research competition for high school students. Administered by the College Board, the Siemens Competition is a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, which supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Angela Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the individual category for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells. In her project, "Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells," Angela aimed to design a targeted gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with the potential to eradicate cancer stem cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging. Angela also won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award for medicine and health science in 2011 and 2010. She spent an estimated 1,000 hours on her research. “Angela created a nanoparticle that is like a Swiss army knife of cancer treatment,” said competition judge Dr. Tejal Desai, professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco. “She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for non-invasive imaging. Her work is an important step in developing new approaches to the therapeutic targeting of tumors via nanotechnology.”

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The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 to Dan Shechtman, of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel “for the discovery of quasicrystals.” In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves. However, the configuration found in quasicrystals was considered impossible, and Dan Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter. On the morning of 8 April 1982, an image counter to the laws of nature appeared in Dan Shechtman’s electron microscope. In all solid matter, atoms were believed to be packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns that were repeated periodically over and over again. For scientists, this repetition was required in order to obtain a crystal. Shechtman’s image, however, showed that the atoms in his crystal were packed in a pattern that could not be repeated. His discovery was extremely controversial. In the course of defending his findings, he was asked to leave his research group. However, his battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter. When scientists describe Shechtman’s quasicrystals, they use a concept that comes from mathematics and art: the golden ratio. This number had already caught the interest of mathematicians in Ancient Greece, as it often appeared in geometry. In quasicrystals, for instance, the ratio of various distances between atoms is related to the golden mean. Following Shechtman’s discovery, scientists have produced other kinds of quasicrystals in the lab and discovered naturally occurring quasicrystals in mineral samples from a Russian river. A Swedish company has also found quasicrystals in a certain form of steel, where the crystals reinforce the material like armor. Scientists are currently experimenting with using quasicrystals in different products such as frying pans and diesel engines.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZRTzOMHQ4s

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Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester have been awarded the highest accolade in the scientific world for their pioneering work with the world’s thinnest material. (Image Credit: University of Manchester )

A thin flake of ordinary carbon, just one atom thick, lies behind this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov have shown that carbon in such a flat form has exceptional properties that originate from the remarkable world of quantum physics. Graphene is a form of carbon. As a material it is completely new – not only the thinnest ever but also the strongest. As a conductor of electricity it performs as well as copper. As a conductor of heat it outperforms all other known materials. It is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that not even helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it. Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again. Geim and Novoselov extracted the graphene from a piece of graphite such as is found in ordinary pencils. Using regular adhesive tape they managed to obtain a flake of carbon with a thickness of just one atom. This at a time when many believed it was impossible for such thin crystalline materials to be stable.

However, with graphene, physicists can now study a new class of two-dimensional materials with unique properties. Graphene makes experiments possible that give new twists to the phenomena in quantum physics. Also a vast variety of practical applications now appear possible including the creation of new materials and the manufacture of innovative electronics. Graphene transistors are predicted to be substantially faster than today’s silicon transistors and result in more efficient computers. Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels, and maybe even solar cells. When mixed into plastics, graphene can turn them into conductors of electricity while making them more heat resistant and mechanically robust. This resilience can be utilised in new super strong materials, which are also thin, elastic and lightweight. In the future, satellites, airplanes, and cars could be manufactured out of the new composite materials.

This year’s Laureates have been working together for a long time. Konstantin Novoselov, 36, first worked with Andre Geim, 51, as a PhD-student in the Netherlands. He subsequently followed Geim to the United Kingdom. Both of them originally studied and began their careers as physicists in Russia. Now they are both professors at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
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