SZAKACS — News Editor
Nanotechnology is an up-and-coming degree with potential impact and career possibilities. Because it’s a disciplinary focus that involves all sciences on a broader level, according to Christine Broadbridge, physics department chair.
“In 20 to 30 years we expect to see major strides in development, but we’re already seeing some development, such as in technology—computers are getting smaller and smaller,” said Broadbridge.
Nanotechnology is about engineering things on very small scales, according to Elliott Horch, professor of physics. Examples are smaller computer chips for devices, such as smart phones and computers, or it can also mean engi¬neering specialized delivery systems for cancer drugs.
“It is a very broad field that seeks to bring a deep knowledge of materials and their properties at small scales to better our lives,” said Horch. “So, if you like your smart phone or flash drive, you like nanotechnology.”
Southern offers undergraduates a minor or concentration in nanotechnology. There is also a graduate certificate program for nanotechnology or a masters in applied physics with two track choices: nanotechnology and material science or optics and optic instruments. The masters program is in the process of being approved, but as of now Southern is offering the courses. Broadbridge said the two tracks are offered at Southern, because there is a need for specialists in the industry.
“We surveyed industries in Connecticut before developing the courses and the program has a strong business component,” said Broadbridge. “We already have great research in material science and nanotechnology and have areas.”
The 14-credit graduate certificate program will offer courses that include material characterization, physics and chemistry of nanoscale materials, fabrication techniques, nanoscale applications, microscopy with emphasis on atomic force, transmission and scanning electron techniques and applications in nanobiology and nanomedicine.
“It’s exciting for students to think about what they can do in global science and start as an undergraduate here at Southern and leave here with a bachelors and a masters in applied physics or a certification in nanotechnology,” said Broadbridge.
Southern is the home of the Connecticut State University System Nanotechnology center that received a new scanning electron microscope recently, located in Jennings Hall in the physics department. There is also a research grade scanning microscope that is used for bio material along with other tech¬nology. Horch and Broadbridge both said Southern was a good choice for the center because of Southern’s large activity within physics and science.
“Thanks to the work of Dr. Broadbridge, SCSU already has a large presence in this field,” said Horch. “Dr. Broad¬bridge is a national leader in the field and has a major collaboration with Yale in this area through an existing center called CRISP [Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena].”
Horch, who is also a professor for the masters in applied physics, said there are job oppor¬tunities in the field, but more will be coming in the future as people realize what can be done. Such jobs would include work¬ing for microchip manufacturers, computer companies, military hardware companies and even drug companies, since delivery of certain drugs right to the point of an illness, such as a tumor, can involve micro-packaging of the drug.
“We often hear in the news that even in this economy there are jobs for highly qualified people in certain areas,” said Horch. “Connecticut has a long tradition of innovative technology and manufacturing companies that need highly trained technical staff. We’re trying to help grow that right here at home.”