Nanotechnology as defined by Eric Drexler in his 1986 book Engines of Creation is "technology based on the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules to build structures to complex, atomic specifications." In the summer of 2007, physics professor Dr. George Martins and electrical and systems engineering professor Dr. Mohamed Zohdy formed an alliance to institute an interdisciplinary program for nanotechnology at Oakland University.

The purpose of NanOU is to introduce the developing field of nanotechnology to students through undergraduate and graduate level courses as well as labs and molecular simulations. Research is a vital part of NanOU's vision, including the utilization of cutting-edge tools such as Nanorex's NanoEngineer-1 and AFM microscopy and the provision of research opportunities for students.
Ahmed zewail nobel prize laureate

Ahmed Zewail | Nobel Prize Laureate (1999)
Awarded for discoveries in Femtochemistry

Much of Femtochemistry deals with the observation and manipulation of chemical bonds on both the time and length scales. Zewail's main discovery included the use of ultrafast laser pulses to track the dynamics of a chemical reaction in realtime. The enhancement of laser technologies have allowed Zewail to better understand the inner workings of a chemical reaction. Understanding reactions and having the ability to conveniently control them would greatly benefit the development of new nanomaterials and devices, since fields such as material science and nanoelectronics directly involve chemistry at the smallest of scales. Researchers at Caltech have already used Zewail's findings to develop a 4D imaging (i.e. x, y, z, and time) technique.

In December of 1959, renowned physicist Richard P. Feynman gave a lecture entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In the lecture, Feynman addressed the manipulation of atoms and what is possible in principle at the atomic level. Using the illustration of downsizing an entire 24 volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica to an area the size of a head of a pin, he not only showed that there is room at the bottom, but also that there is plenty of room.

The goal of the lecture was not just to show that extraordinary things are possible at the atomic scale. Feynman was trying to motivate people to focus on the bottom-up building process which could make what is possible a reality. In fact, he ended his lecture with a challenge — a prize of $1000 to the first person who could make an electric motor the size of a 1/64 inch cube. When somebody stepped up to his challenge and made the motor, Feynman was disappointed. His vision was on the building process and not the product.

"It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction." — Feynman

The full transcript of Feynman's lecture can be read at

Headline: Oakland University is proud to have the support of Nanorex

One company which is making a step toward Feynman's vision is Nanorex. A short video created under the support of Nanorex shows a "nanofactory" in action. Oakland University is proud to have the support of Nanorex founder and CEO, Mark Sims, in its nanotechnology research endeavors. Like other scientists, engineers, and technology enthusiasts, Sims was motivated to pursue nanotechnology through reading Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation, a book which challenges its readers to think nano just as Feynman challenged his audience in 1959. Using his expertise in CAD (computer-aided design), Sims founded Nanorex, which has developed a world class tool for the modeling and simulation of nanotechnology systems — NanoEngineer-1. NanoEngineer-1 effectively bridges the gap between physics, chemistry, and engineering to give students, professors, and researchers a better visualization of nanotechnological systems. Perhaps the best part of NanoEngineer-1 is the fact that it is open source software and will be available for download. In June 2007, Oakland University had the privilege of having Mark Sims give the first public demonstration of NanoEngineer-1. Since the demonstration, Oakland professors and students have been writing application-specific plug-ins and utilizing the power of NanoEngineer-1 for nanotechnology research.
Headline: A bit of humor goes a long way in nanotechnology.



Dr. George Martins

Dr. George Martins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Campinas State University Sao Paulo, Brazil. He later also obtained a masters and Ph.D. from Campinas State. Dr. Martins is now a professor in the Department of Physics at Oakland University. In the area of nanotechnology, Martins has been involved with the quantum dot, publishing several papers which model its behaviour and explore its properties.

Dr. Mohamed Zohdy
Electrical and Systems Engineering

Dr. Mohamed Zohdy graduated with honors in electrical engineering from the University of Cairo. He continued his education at the University of Waterloo where he received his Masters degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Dr. Zohdy has since joined the electrical and systems engineering department at Oakland University where he has taught introductory and advanced control systems and theory. He has remained active in Eta Kappa Nu, IEEE, and Sigma Si. With his expertise in control systems and theory, Dr. Zohdy has been advancing the nanotechnology program at Oakland University.


Evan J. Dawley
Electrical and Systems Engineering

Evan received an excellent math and science base at Bethany Christian School and upon graduation began his college career at Oakland University in electrical engineering. Throughout the summer of 2007, Evan has collaborated information relative to nanotechnology and has authored this website, NanOU. After accepting the research opportunity at Oakland University, he has had a growing interest in nanotechnology and would like to pursue further research after graduating from Oakland University in December 2007. Evan is heavily involved extracurricular activities, including music in his local church as well as baseball with the Pontiac Cubs. Evan is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and IEEE, and he serves as vice president of Tau Beta Pi at Oakland University.

Renee Colby
Physics and Chemistry

Renee began her academic career at Oakland Community College with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. At OCC, she met a professor of physics who inspired her to embark on a scientific career path. In the fall of 2005, she transferred to Oakland University as a Physics major. During the summer of 2007, she participated in a research program for undergraduates, doing theoretical work for Dr. George Martins on carbon nanotube-based switches. Renee is continuing her research in nanotechnology throughout the school year and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Chemistry in May of 2009.

Robert Connolly
Mathematics and Physics

Robert has always been interested in Math and Physics. At Waterford Kettering High School he participated in a unique, hands-on, math and physics class. It was there he realized that a career in math and physics was in his future. In 2007, he completed a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics with a minor in History. Pursuing his interest in education, he worked both as a volunteer tutor and as a chair on the executive board of the Detroit Area Council of Teachers of Mathematics. During the summer of 2007 he was fortunate to become involved with Dr. Martins and his quantum mechanics research in Crystal Field Theory. In the fall of 2007, he has been accepted to the Mathematics PhD program at OU where he is currently studying discrete mathematics with a focus in abstract algebra. Robert is advancing the development of a nanotechnology program at Oakland University.

Dwayne Riley, Jr.

Dwayne Riley attends Cass Tech High School, where he pursues his interest in math and science. Dwayne took the opportunity to work with Dr. George Martins in Oakland University's SMaRT (summer materials research and training) program. He researched carbon nanotubes and explored the capabilities Nanorex's NanoEngineer-1, taking part in the modeling of a carbon nanotube-based switch.