Nanocamp 2014 in Review

Nanocamp 2014 in Review

By Associate Professor Michele Governale From the 15th to the 17th of January SCPS hosted the 6th edition of Nanocamp, a week-long science camp sponsored by The MacDiarmid Institute for students starting their last year of high school in 2014. The selection process to be admitted to Nanocamp is extremely competitive, with the best science students in the country contending for just fifteen places. Nanocamp is hosted in turns by the different institutions of The MacDiarmid Institute; it was last held at VUW in 2012. This year, I had the pleasure to be part of the organising team together with Dr Shen Chong (who coordinated the activities at Callaghan Innovation and GNS). This task was made very light by the enthusiastic response of everyone in the school whom I asked for help and by the invaluable assistance of Ms Sarah Dadley who took care of all practical matters. During Nanocamp week the school was buzzing with activity and the contagious enthusiasm of the Nanocampers. The camp kicked off with a welcome from Director, Prof Kate McGrath, who set the scene by giving a brief overview of nanoscience. Many SCPS staff members and graduate/undergraduate students contributed to the scientific program of the camp. The scientific programme at SCPS this year featured (in order of appearance):

  • Uli ZülickeNanoscience basics
  • Eva Anton & Ben RuckSpintronics
  • Petrik GalvosasMagnetic Resonance Imaging in material science
  • Eric Le Ru, Raman single-molecule detection
  • Kate McGrathDeformable lego – creating 3D structures using molecules
  • David Flynn, Electron microscopy
  • Natalie PlankMicrofabrication & clean room
  • Michele GovernaleNanoelectronics
  • Rob Keyzers, Smells and Flavours, Food and Mouse Traps: The importance of volatile molecules in food and pest control
  • Justin HodgkissUltrafast laser spectroscopy
  • Franck Natali, Lightning with LEDs
  • Plus a number of postgraduate/undergraduate students who helped in the various labs.

It is not possible to say which activity in the programme was the favourite among the nanocampers, with different students indicating different activities as their highlight of the camp.  The students also spent one day at Callaghan Innovation and GNS Science, where they learned about superhydrophobics, photonics, and superconductivity. Besides the scientific programme, MESA, the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association, put together a social programme, whose highlight was the night tour at Zealandia. In this respect, a special mention should go to Brendan Darby, Leah Graham, James McNulty and Harry Warring who gave up a lot of their time to make this happen. I was particularly impressed by the scientific-oriented treasure hunt, which included the use of cross-polarisers and an infrared camera in order to read the clues, and a literature search on the physics of moshpits [for those interested: J. L. Silverberg, M. Bierbaum, J. P. Sethna, and I. Cohen, Phys. Rev Lett 110, 228701 (2013)]. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the important contribution of Dr Howard Lukefahr, who prepared and ran several practical activities both here and at Callaghan Innovation and captivated the nanocamp students with his flamboyant style. The nanocampers seemed to have really enjoyed the camp: their major complaint was that it was far too short!