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What are nano-materials and how can they change our life?

Step right up and be amazed at how physics, chemistry and materials science reveal the secrets of the universe. Who knew that supernovae are so bright they can outshine an entire galaxy of 100 billion stars? Inside the “Extreme Science” exhibit, see an incredible image of a supernova explosion, where a massive star collapses on itself and gives off enough light for a trillion, trillion, trillion, watt light bulb! From understanding how batteries are made to creating better motor oil for our cars, learn from ORNL scientists how extreme science is changing the way we live!  

Mass spectrometry
So how does mass spectrometry affect everyday life? Whether used for screening infants for more than two dozen diseases or helping solve crimes, mass spectrometry is a technique that helps identify the types of chemicals present in a sample. Using magnetic force, ions are separated based on mass and then collected in a detector. Tour the exhibit to see examples of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, which can be used for environmental, drug, and biological studies, and the M908 handheld mass spectrometer that can be used to sniff out chemical agents, industrial chemicals, and even explosives. We can also thank mass spec for helping keep food safe and free from pesticides and other chemicals, as well as aiding in the discovery of new medications to help keep us healthy.

Did you know that some butterflies owe their color to a nanoscale effect? Numerous scales on their wings contain nanostructures that affect the way light waves interact with each other, giving their wings that shimmering blue/green hue. Nanoscience involves the study of structures and materials at microscopic scale. To give you an idea of how long a nanometer is, think about one strand of your hair. Though that strand of hair might vary in length, would you guess that a typical human hair is nearly 50,000 nanometers across?

Anxious to learn more?
Before you start your nano research, check out “Peter Mann” the mannequin wearing the “bunny suit”—a must-wear garment that is worn in a cleanroom to keep contaminates such as skin, sweat and hair from contaminating research materials.

From big to small, we explore it all!

"Extreme Science" trailer

Visit the "Extreme Science" trailer to learn more about nanoscience and mass spectrometry!