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Nanotech: physics and materials science or bioengineering?

  1. May 13, 2009 #1
    The title should give a rough overview of my question.

    I am going to a liberal arts college (Wesleyan university) and shall take the 3/2 engineering program, which means a double major in physics and some kind of engineering AFTER 3 years and getting my BA in physics. So I should be getting a BA in physics in 3 years, and a BS in engineering in 2 years. I'm very sure that I want to go into nanotechnology, which I understand is a very broad term.

    My question is, what engineering should I take for my second undergraduate major? Part of the reason I'm asking this question is that I'm not very clear on the sub-fields in nanotechnology. Does anyone have recommendations for a book that provides a good starting point for someone interested in nanotechnology? I mean something a bit deeper than popular science books, but not something that would require years of college to understand. Perhaps the equivalent of Feynman's QED?

    I left out electrical engineering because I am also quite sure that I don't want to go into nanoelectronics (well, not focus on it, anyway). I'm also leaning towards nanomedicine and molecular nanotechnology, which I sort of understand as being another very broad term.

    What would the differences be if I took materials science instead of bioengineering (or any other kind of engineering) for my second undergraduate degree, and how big of a difference would it be? I've taken both IB physics HL and chemistry HL, so would the lack of biology hurt me in three years if I decide to take bioengineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2009 #2
    I don't think materials science is appropriate for what you want to do. From my experience, it would be much more applicable if you were interested in electronics. ChemE and BME seem most appropriate of all the engineering fields.
  4. May 15, 2009 #3
    Thank you very much for your reply. I specifically mentioned materials science because I generally see many materials scientists/engineers in university nanotech research groups. However, I've really only looked at something like 2 universities about that, as many don't seem to have a formal group.
  5. May 15, 2009 #4
    uhn? I thought material science is ALL about nanotech, at least that is how my friends talk about it, and their courses titles look like.
  6. May 15, 2009 #5
    btw, although there are many branches in material science, normally, chemistry and material science is the best combination.
  7. May 15, 2009 #6
    I never said it wasn't, just that it isn't good for what the OP was trying to do specifically.
  8. May 15, 2009 #7
    Would this be a fair simplification?

    Materials science has a lot to do with nanotech, but it's more suited for the electronics/physics-y side of nanotech?
  9. May 18, 2009 #8
    I think it's fair to say that there are more materials scientists from a physics/EE background, but materials science has become so interdisciplinary that it's really all about what you want to make of it. Undergraduate classes will cover both physics and chemistry. As an MSE graduate student, my work has been entirely chemistry-focused (essentially, synthesis of polymer nanocomposites), as has my coursework for the most part. What degree plan is appropriate for you would depend on the school, because some materials departments are more "traditional" than others (i.e., more centered on physics and less overlap with chemistry and biology).

    I think BME or MSE would be good choices. BME would almost certainly be a better route to pursue nanomedicine, but molecular nanotechnology (as I'm familiar with it) is accessible from either major. Chem E would also be a good choice, but from what I understand the classes are oriented more towards process design rather than the structure of materials and their design on an atomic/molecular level.
  10. May 20, 2009 #9
    Thank you very much for this reply. I am very interested in molecular nanotechnology, so it's very good to see that it's accessible from both majors. I'll just wait and see what the engineering programs at wherever I'm going offers.
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