This category includes fundamental concepts that are discussed in traditional science classes at the macro and micro level - but require an emphasis because of the impact and application at the nanoscale. For example, as the size of a particle is reduced the surface area to volume ratio increases. This means that more of the particle atoms are on the surface which will impact chemical reactivity. Another aspect is included in the concepts of linear, areal and volumic dependencies on the linear dimension. When a parameter, say pressure, is dependent on multiple powers of the linear dimension, considering the impact at the nanoscale can be counter intuitive. These modules allow students to think about the world of the very small based on fundamental concepts and serve as a good introduction to nanoscience.
Although the purist will state that there are four forces, when explaining observed phenomena at the nanoscale it is very useful to include interactions such as ionic and covalent bonding, hydrogen bonds, Brownian motion, van der Waals forces, thermal vibration, rotation , adhesive and cohesive forces and subcategories of these interactions. Often, the effect of what is observed at any scale (macroscale to nanoscale) is dependent upon the priorities of these forces. For example the interaction between planets is driven by the gravitational force because of the large mass of the objects, The strength of the interaction of planets due to the electrostatic forces exists, but is very small -- overshadowed by the gravitational forces. The opposite is often true at the nanoscale, atoms and molecules are significantly impacted by electrostatic forces - and because of the small mass, minimally impacted by gravitational attraction. So it is just a matter of which force or interaction is the top interaction for any given situation. These modules use many different activities which allow students to evaluate the priority of different forces and interactions with different materials and at different scales.
Most students learn at an early age that everything is made of atoms and that atoms group together into molecules. Molecules can be crystals, polymers, proteins or cells. The aspect of nanotechnology that is critical for understanding materials is that the order and/or arrangement of the atoms into molecules and molecules into objects defines the electrical, physical and biological properties of that material. If we observe a unique property of a particular material it is because the molecules /atoms are arranged in a specific manner -- change the arrangement and we change the property. For example, carbon atoms arranged in one manner comprises pencil lead, arranged another way it is a charcoal, arranged another way and it is a diamond. All of these objects are comprised of the same materials, carbon, but each has unique and distinct properties. These modules will enable students to study different materials and their associated properties.