Ellen Williams Gives a Public Lecture at K-State

MANHATTAN -- The tiny world of nanoscience has opened broad frontiers in physics and microbiology, and one of its pioneering personalities will share her observations Friday at Kansas State University.

Ellen D. Williams, distinguished university professor of physics at the University of Maryland, will deliver the keynote address for a workshop arranged by Women in Science and Engineering. The address, "Seeing Atoms: The Beginnings of Nanoscience," is free and open to the public, although the weekend ADVANCE workshop is not.

Williams, who also directs the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, in the Flint Hills Room of the K-State Student Union. She will concentrate on how the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope 25 years ago gave researchers the ability to observe individual atoms and even manipulate them.

"The nanoscale world is not a scaled-down version of the larger world," Williams said. "Nanoscale structures have special properties by virtue of their smallness alone, which include quantum confinement, high surface-to-volume ratio and susceptibility to fluctuations."

Such nano-talents are leading to applications such as microswitches and highly reactive powders that can decontaminate toxic environments.

In addition to talking about crossing physical frontiers, Williams also will reflect on the changing attitudes toward women' s participation in the sciences. For example, when she began graduate school at the California Institution of Technology, formal admission of women had only been allowed for a few years. She earned her doctorate in chemistry in 1981.

More information about Williams' presentation is available at http://www.phys.k-state.edu/advance/index.html

Courtesy of K-State Media Relations