Get ready to enjoy the small. The really, really, really, really small. On Wedesday, Oct. 9 everyone at UCLA is invited to the California NanoSystems Institute as it celebrates National Nanotechnology Day. CNSI will hold a series of free, educational, hands-on demonstrations across campus.

The free demonstrations, which will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in four locations, are designed to raise awareness of nanotechnology, including how it is currently used in products that enrich our daily lives and the challenges and opportunities it holds for the future. For reference, a nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Visitors can try their hand at nanoscience at each of the following locations:

Sculpture Garden, “Ferrofluids — Levitating Liquids”

Originally developed by NASA as a means of moving rocket fuel in a weightless environment, ferrofluids are magnetic liquids used in a wide variety of engineering and consumer applications. In this experiment, we will prepare ferrofluids containing iron oxide nanoparticles approximately 10 nanometers in diameter, which spontaneously magnetize in the presence of a magnetic field.

Dickson Plaza South, “Plasmonics and Scattering — Ancient Art from Gold”

While nanoscience has only been coined as its own field of study in more recent history, nanoscale objects have been used unknowingly by researchers and craftsman for hundreds of years. In this experiment, we will synthesize gold nanoparticles in solution and encase them in gels to make ‘stained glass’, and will learn about the history of nanoparticles in art.

Janss Terrace, “Biopolymers — From Boba to Biology”

Biogels or biopolymers are used by all organisms to carry out the functions of life. Beyond their natural functions, biopolymers are useful aids to modern life, serving as stabilizers, thickeners and gelling agents in applications as diverse as food preparation and wound repair. This experiment is designed to demonstrate that biology depends on the organization of biomolecular scaffolds, called structural biopolymers, at the nanoscale.

Inverted Fountain, “Superhydrophobic Surfaces — Wash Like a Plant”

The superhydrophobic surfaces experiment blends elements from chemistry, biology and physics to vividly demonstrate how the incorporation of nanoscale texture at a material’s surface can lead to dramatic changes in certain physical properties such as wettability. Students will learn basic concepts in surface chemistry and discuss emerging industrial applications for materials with these unique characteristics.

The event will inlcude nano prizes, science stickers and those who complete all four stations will be entered for a grand prize raffle. A map to the locations of the demonstrations, can be found here.