What do a computer hard drive, sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and the dirt-repellent surface of a shower cubicle have in common? All three use knowledge from a world hidden from the human eye and often human imagination - nanotechnology (Nanos = greek: dwarf).
The study field at a glance
Nanotechnology is the collective term for a broad range of technologies that deal in many ways with the analysis and processing of materials that have one thing in common: their size range is one to one hundred nanometers. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter (a human hair is several tens of thousands of nanometers thick). This is a borderline where more and more quantum physical effects play an important role.
Put simply, nanotechnology takes advantage of the fact that materials and structures lead to new or improved product properties due to the small size ("nanoscale") of individual components. Thus, one is able to build from the building blocks of nature - atoms and molecules - new products with tailor-made properties. Examples include a significantly higher hardness and breaking strength of materials or the self-cleaning properties of surfaces.
Various scientific fields, e.g. Biology, chemistry, computer science, medicine, physics and materials science are involved in developing nanostructures. Nanotechnology is therefore understood as a cross-sectional technology. Their findings are relevant to a large number of science and technology fields.
Contents of the course
The study can have a more engineering and materials science component or focus on physical education. Basic studies (Bachelor) teach knowledge in mathematics, experimental and theoretical physics, chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology.
In engineering and materials science modules, students in advanced study have the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge of a selected application (e.g., power engineering, electronics and biophysics) or a field of technology (e.g., materials science, Nano-structuring technology, devices). Internships, laboratories and field trips bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and industrial application.
Admission criteria & course application
Depending on the university, a pre-study internship lasting several weeks prior to taking up studies and / or a study-integrated 10 to 12-week industrial internship is required.
Possible careers after graduation
Nanotechnology is considered one of the most promising fields of research and application in the natural sciences and is characterized by a high pace of innovation. More than 70,000 jobs in around 1,100 companies in almost all industrial sectors depend on nanotechnology in Germany. According to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Republic is the number one in Europe.
Fields of activity mainly arise in companies and institutions that research or apply nanotechnology processes. In addition to the chemical industry, these include the fields of information technology, power engineering, semiconductor production, biotechnology, pharmacy, mechanical engineering, medical technology or genetic engineering. Further employment opportunities are provided by research institutes and universities as well as environmental authorities.