July 25, 2011

Productivity: Optional

Since this program started, Mondays have been my least productive day.  They always start the same: a trip to the clean room to work on our photolithography project.  I go with four other teachers and one of the program directors who takes us through the steps to make... something.  I understand what we're making, but I'm still not sure why.  We seem to be doing a lot of things to help us get acquainted with the materials and machines in the clean room, and a lot of these procedures are related to the types of things that many of the labs in the building do on a regular basis, so that's useful.  However, it has practically no bearing on my immediate project, the gold nanobeads.

Still, it is a lot of fun to do the experiments.  Today we took glass plates that we'd etched with chemicals the week before.  On top we added a mixture of PDMS, which looks a lot like clear Jell-O when it hardens.  It essentially formed an impression of our glass plates, and then we peeled it off and shined lasers through it.  They made some really cool patterns on the floor.  I'd take a picture, but the laser is making my dog go nuts, and I don't have enough hands to handle everything besides.

But now I have a jello-like disc that I can use in class to impress my students.  That should be good for a light demo.

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