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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 24, 2007

A journey into the world of the very small is subject of Sept. 29 talk

If you consider that one nanometer -- a unit of measure one billionth of a meter in length -- is about 50,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, then you have some idea of the incredibly tiny world of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Paradoxically, the ability to master such small spaces can be an advantage when dealing with large-scale phenomena such as pollution.

That fact and others will be addressed by Sarah Larsen, associate professor of chemistry in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) when she speaks on "Nanotechnology: Solving Big Problems with Small Science" at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in Room 40 of Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest. The talk is free and open to the public.

Part of the CLAS 2007 Saturday Scholars lecture series, the talk will describe how nanoscale objects are so small that they require the use of powerful electron microscopes in order to be seen.

Larsen, who also serves as associate director of the UI's Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute, defines nanoscience as the study of the fundamental principles of molecules and structures with at least one dimension between one and 100 nanometers, while nanotechnology is the application of these nanostructures into useful nanoscale devices. Nanoscience and nanotechnology can benefit a broad range of fields including nanoelectronics, medicine, the environment, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, agriculture, biotechnology and computation.

In her talk, she will describe how zeolites -- porous nanomaterials widely used in catalysis, adsorption and ion-exchange -- are being developed for applications in environmental catalysis, water purification, and drug delivery. Currently, Larsen and her research group are focused on zeolite synthesis, spectroscopic characterization, and application.

The remaining events in the 2007 "Saturday Scholars" series, all of which begin at 10 a.m. in Room 40 of Schaeffer Hall, are:

--Oct. 6: "Freedom of Expression: For a Price," Kembrew McCleod, Department of Communication Studies

--Oct. 20: "Ethical Activism in the Poetry of Adrienne Rich and Mary Oliver," Linda Bolton, Department of English

--Nov. 3: "Animated Culture: Contemporary Experimental Art Practices," Jon Winet, School of Art and Art History

Saturday Scholars was developed to give the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20 to 30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served. Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 319-335-2610.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,