Small Science Wields Big Ideas

LSU Celebrates NanoDays: The Biggest Event for the Tiniest of Science


Nanoscale structures, such as a single strand of DNA or gold nanoparticles in church windows, have existed in nature and have been used long before scientists began devoting their studies to them. Recently, this innovative field of study has contributed to numerous discoveries, such as advanced applications in energy, information storage and medicine. Because of its promising future, organizations across the country celebrate NanoDays, a nationwide festival of programs about nanoscale science and engineering.

For the tenth consecutive year, LSU will host NanoDays at the Highland Road Park Observatory, or HRPO, on Saturday, March 30, from 2-6 p.m. beginning with “Small Things Move Faster,” a presentation by Mette Gaarde, a professor in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy. At 2 p.m., Dr. Gaarde will explain how very brief pulses of laser light can be used to make movies of electrons, atoms, and molecules.

The free family-friendly event is open to the public and will feature several hands-on activities for guests of all ages, including:

  • Learn first-hand how a Scanning Probe Microscope helps scientists explore the nanoworld
  • See how nanomaterials are used to make stain-free clothes
  • Play with liquid crystals and magnets
  • Make an Oobleck, a liquid with both liquid and solid properties

In addition, the observatory will have this month’s solar viewing session from 3-5 p.m.; patrons will see the sun safely through several devices, including HRPO’s Coronado Solar Max II.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., a special “scavenger hunt” game will allow kids to obtain prizes by interacting with the nano demos. The game extends into the night until 8:30 p.m., as HRPO gives visitors a last glimpse of Mars, which will soon be going behind the Sun.

NanoDays sponsors include the LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Center for Computation and Technology and the Society of Physics Students – LSU Chapter.

For more information about LSU NanoDays at the Highland Road Observatory, visit

For more information about the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy, visit

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Mimi LaValle
LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy