Mystery Molecules: Identifying Materials with Nanoscale Characterization Tools

Novel materials are currently being developed for numerous applications including in medicine, textiles, and computers. To test and characterize these materials, scientists use a number of different analytical tools. Many of these explore what is going on at the atomic level, which is on the nanoscale. Here they can see how different atoms are behaving and even look at what is going on in dynamic or changing environments. These same tools can also help to identify materials. In this lesson plan, students will be given several similar looking materials and be asked to identify them by observing them at the macro- and micro-scale. They will then be exposed to different analytical tools and describe how they can be used to explore materials at the nanoscale. A unique component of the lesson plan is to access RTNN facilities (remotely or by field trip) to collect and analyze data with tools described in the lesson. Lesson Plan