Production and Characterization of Graphene and Other 2-Dimensional Nanomaterials: An AP High School Inquiry Lab (Curriculum Exchange)

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Conference Proceeding

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According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanoscience and nanotechnology are expected to play key roles in developing solutions to some of our greatest global engineering challenges in energy, medicine, security, and scientific discovery. There is high expectation that developments in nanotechnology will lead to new job creation and become an economic driver with new direction for research and development coming from nano-enabled products. In light of the potential economic and national security implications, it is imperative that we support the development of the next generation of the high school curriculum as a way to motivate students towards pursuing education and careers in nanotechnology. Recent advances in nanomaterials processing, particularly 2-dimensional nanomaterials synthesis, present the opportunity to integrate nanotechnology curriculum into high schools in safe and relatively inexpensive manners. The multifunctional characteristics of 2-dimensional nanomaterials make them attractive for printable and flexible electronics, nanostructured thermoelectrics, photovoltaics, batteries, and biological and chemical sensors. Thus, 2-dimensional nanomaterials provide anideal context for high school students to investigate the principles of nanoscience andnanotechnology. In our work, we present an Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry Inquiry Laboratory (CIL),which is being implemented at Centennial High School in Meridian, Idaho. The CIL is aligned toNational College Board requirements for AP Chemistry courses as well as Next GenerationScience Standards. The laboratory is designed to encompass approximately five hours of time,including teacher preparation time, pre-laboratory activities, materials synthesis andcharacterization, and a field trip to a local industry partner for scanning electron microscopyanalysis of the resultant nanomaterials. Students are organized into small groups under thecontext that they are working to produce and characterize nanomaterials as part of an industryresearch team. To synthesis the 2-dimensional nanomaterials, students use cosolvent exfoliationof layered materials such as graphite, MoS2, WS2, and hBN. The students must then use opticalspectroscopy and electrical characterization techniques to determine if their material is aconductor, semiconductor, or an insulator. The students then use scanning electron microscopy to image the morphology of the 2-dimensional nanoflakes they produced, which exposes the students to advanced nanoscale characterization techniques.