Linking Introductory Physics Laboratories with Modern Technology by Restructuring Service Courses Around Investigations at the Nanoscale*

A series of nanotechnology modules were developed at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. These nanoscale modules were primarily developed for freshman- and sophomore-level physics service courses to supplement existing experiments of macroscale phenomenon. In addition, these introductory modules were modified for more advanced level experiments for placement in our upper-level physics courses. The goals behind these curricular changes were to (1) introduce students to research grade instrumentation at an early level that they may likely encounter in their future careers or in graduate school; (2) create a hierarchy of courses, where students are introduced to advanced instrumentation and experimental techniques at successive stages of complexity from freshman to senior level; and (3) provide cross-disciplinary activities that demonstrate the utility and relevance of physics for majors in other disciplines.

* This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0406533.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

 

EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS

The atomic force microscope used in all module development was a Quesant Instruments Universal Scanning Probe Microscope. The microscope employs several modes of operation including contact, intermittent contact, magnetic force, electric force, lateral force, phase contrast and force-distance mode. The scanning head portion of the microscope was placed on a vibration isolation platform (BM-4 platform from Minus K Technology) to limit influences from floor vibrations and this platform was placed in a chamber (Novascan) to limit influences from acoustic vibrations. To facilitate ease in transport to the various physics laboratories, the chamber was placed on a table fitted with rolling casters.

MODULE DEVELOPMENT

Modules were developed for each quarter of the four-quarter introductory calculus-based physics sequence. In addition, these modules were adapted for use in the three-quarter algebra-based physics sequence and for upper level physics laboratories. In all, eight primary modules were developed. These primary modules and adaptations of these modules can be accessed through the links below.

Primary Modules

Nanoscale Measurements Nanoscale Friction Electrostatics Magnetic Fields
Geometric Optics Physical Optics Spectroscopy Microwave Optics

Adaptations to Upper Level Courses

 

Personnel

Kurt Vandervoort, Principal Investigator

Nina Abramzon and Graciela Brelles-Marino, Senior Personnel

Asif Hyder, Stephanie Adams, and Raul Torrico, Undergraduate Students

 

Publications

Kurt Vandervoort and Graciela Brelles-Mariño, "Cal Poly Pomona NUE Project: Implementing Microscale and Nanoscale Investigations Throughout the Undergraduate Curriculum," J. Nano Educ. 5, 51-60 (2013)

Anna Zelaya, Kurt Vandervoort, and Graciela Brelles-Mariño "Battling Bacterial Biofilms with Gas Discharge Plasma," in Plasma for Bio-Decontamination, Medicine and Food Security (Editors: Zdenko Machala, Karol Hensel, Yuri Akishev, NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology, Springer, 2012).

A. Zelaya, G. Stough, N. Rad, K. Vandervoort, and G. Brelles-Mariño, "Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Inactivation: Decreased Cell Culturability, Adhesiveness to Surfaces, and Biofilm Thickness upon High-Pressure Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. 38, 3398 (2010).

Gregory Cohoon, Chris Boyter, Michael Errico, Kurt Vandervoort, and Ertan Salik, "Enhancing Sensitivity of Biconical Tapered Fiber Sensors with Multiple Passes through the Taper," Optical Engineering 49, 034401 (2010).

Kurt Vandervoort, "Microscopy as an Analysis Tool for Studying Plasma Applications," book chapter in Environmental and Biological Applications of Gas Discharge Plasmas, edited by Graciela Brelles-Mariño (Nova Science, Hauppauge, NY, 2009).  

Jonathan C. Joaquin, Calvin Kwan, Nina Abramzon, Kurt Vandervoort, and Graciela Brelles-Mariño, "Is Gas-Discharge Plasma a New Solution to the Old Problem of Biofilm Inactivation?," Microbiology 155, 724 (2009).

K. G. Vandervoort, N. Abramzon and G. Brelles-Marino, "Plasma Interactions with Bacterial Biofilms as Visualized through Atomic Force Microscopy," IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. 36, 1296 (2008).

Virginia Peterson, Mark Lord, and Kurt Vandervoort, "Establishment of an Investigative Curricular Approach Across the Geology and Physics Programs at Western Carolina University and Implementation at Other Institutions," in Developing and Sustaining a Research-Supportive Curriculum: A Compendium of Successful Practices, edited by Kerry Karukstis and Timothy Elgren (Council of Undergraduate Research, Washington DC, 2007).

K. G. Vandervoort, S. L. Adams, and A. M. Hyder, "Revealing the blaze angle: a simple experiment for visualizing diffraction effects using microscopic and macroscopic gratings," Am. J. Phys. 74 , 649 (2006).

Kurt Vandervoort, Asif Hyder, Stephanie Barker, and Raul Torrico, "Including Nanoscale Investigations in Undergraduate Physics Laboratories at All Levels of the Curriculum", in Education in Nanoscience and Engineering, edited by R. Carpenter, S. Seal, N. Healy, N. Shinn, W. Braue (Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. 931E , Warrendale, PA, 2006), 0931-KK03-02.

 

Presentations

Kurt Vandervoort and Asif Hyder, "Restructuring Introductory Laboratories to Include Investigations at the Nanoscale", March Meeting of the American Physical Society, Los Angeles, CA, March, 2005, Abstract #C1-1.

Kurt Vandervoort, Asif Hyder, Stephanie Barker, and Raul Torrico, "Including Nanoscale Investigations in Undergraduate Physics Laboratories at all Levels of the Curriculum," Spring Meeting of the Materials Research Society, April, 2006, Abstract #KK3.2.

Kurt Vandervoort, Stephanie Barker and Raul Torrico, "Including Nanoscale Investigations in a General Introductory Physics Course," March Meeting of the American Physical Society, Baltimore, MD, March, 2006, Abstract #Q1-179.

C. Kwan, J. C. Joaquin, N. Abramzon, K. Vandervoort, and G. Brelles-Mariño, "Microscopic Studies and Kinetics of Plasma-Assisted Biofilm Destruction", 106th General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, Orlando, FL, May, 2006, Abstract #Q-243.

J. C. Joaquin, C. Kwan, J. D. Bray, N. K. Vandervoort, N. Abramzon, and G. Brelles-Mariño, "Kinetics and Microscopic Studies of Plasmas-Assisted Biofilm Destruction", International Conference on Plasma Science, Traverse City, MI, June, 2006.

J. C. Joaquin, C. Kwan, J. D. Bray, N. Abramzon, K. Vandervoort, and G. Brelles-Mariño, "Biofilm Destruction by Gas Discharge Plasmas: Microscopic Studies and Kinetics", 11th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology, Vienna, Austria, August, 2006.

Asif Hyder and Kurt Vandervoort, "Restructuring Introductory Laboratories to Include Investigations at the Nanoscale", California State Polytechnic University Physics Department, Senior Project Poster Session, June 2005.

Stephanie Barker and Kurt Vandervoort, "Restructuring the
Physics 234 Course to Include Nanoscale Investigations", California State Polytechnic University Physics Department, Senior Project Poster Session, June 2006.

Raul Torrico and Kurt Vandervoort, "Operation of an Atomic Force Microscope for Studying Bacteria", California State Polytechnic University Physics Department, Senior Project Poster Session, June 2006.