Inspiring the Next Generation of Nanotechnologists

ZEISS electron microscope used in nanotechnology outreach program to local high school and community college students in greater San Diego area

Opportunities for careers in nanotechnology are increasing in many different fields, including: electronics and semiconductors, energy capture and storage, textiles and polymer materials science, auto and aerospace industries, and medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Already there are challenges in educating and training a large enough workforce to support these many industries.

Dr. Yves Theriault is developing a state-of-the-art educational outreach program at the San Diego Nanotechnology Infrastructure (SDNI) at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). His goal is to create awareness about nanotechnology among the high school and community college student populations in the Southern California areas starting with San Diego County. The program also includes nanotechnology curriculum development. By doing so, he hopes to contribute to the increase of the nanotechnology skilled workforce in the United States.

A live view of the microscope in the classroom

Part of this program has included developing online tools to enable remote access to UCSD’s highest resolution scanning electron microscope, ZEISS Sigma 500. This microscope is typically reserved for use only by highly trained scientists from UCSD or local industries in the greater San Diego area for advanced nanotechnology research.

This is the online interface where students engage with SDNI staff and gain remote access to the scanning electron microscope, ZEISS Sigma 500.

Educators and their students can access the microscope from their classrooms by navigating to SDNI’s webpage. At prearranged lesson times, they will be connected online to a SDNI staff operator and provided with a live view of the microscope. Lessons are guided by the SDNI staff and students can operate the microscope remotely, using on screen controls.

Students can experience firsthand what it might be like to work in nanotechnology, hopefully inspiring some to continue their career developments in this direction.

Community college students during an online lesson

“Being in their classrooms, students can remotely explore sciences and nature at the nanoscale. It is an amazing experience and shows the magic of electron microscopy”, Dr. Theriault said.

Dr. Theriault is interested in recruiting educators in San Diego and Riverside counties to join his program and welcomes new applicants. To contact Dr. Theriault for more information about his program, email:

Learn more about SDNI

More information on ZEISS electron microscopes

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Topic Education

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