Though tens of thousands of nanoparticles could fit across a strand of hair, Bentley will attempt to corral them into thin films using a technique called electrochemical deposition. By studying the growth of the nanoparticle-containing films, Bentley hopes to generate a new method of organizing nanoparticles so that they can be used in products ranging from sensors to advanced batteries.
“The tiny size of my research subject by no means represents its significance,” Bentley said. “What we learn through this project could greatly affect technology, and I hope that students working in my research lab gain skills that will help them in their scientific careers.”
Last year, Bentley received one of only eight Faculty Start-up Awards given by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The $30,000, five-year award allows Bentley to offer student assistants research stipends.
The NSF funding will facilitate Bentley’s outreach to undergraduate researchers at both Lewis & Clark and Portland Community College, where she hopes to foster new general chemistry laboratory curricula on nanoscale chemistry.