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Nanoporous Silicon As A Green, High-Tech Educational Tool

Jeffery L. Coffer, Leigh T. Canham

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Pedagogical tools are needed that link multidisciplinary nanoscience and technology (NST) to multiple state-of-the-art applications, including those requiring new fabrication routes relying on green synthesis. These can both educate and motivate the next generation of entrepreneurial NST scientists to create innovative products whilst protecting the environment and resources. Nanoporous silicon shows promise as such a tool as it can be fabricated from plants and waste materials, but also embodies many key educational concepts and key industrial uses identified for NST. Specific mechanical, thermal, and optical properties become highly tunable through nanoporosity. We also describe exceptional properties for nanostructured silicon like medical biodegradability and efficient light emission that open up new functionality for this semiconductor. Examples of prior lecture courses and potential laboratory projects are provided, based on the author’s experiences in academic chemistry and physics departments in the USA and UK, together with industrial R&D in the medical, food, and consumer-care sectors. Nanoporous silicon-based lessons that engage students in the basics of entrepreneurship can also readily be identified, including idea generation, intellectual property, and clinical translation of nanomaterial products.