nanoTruck – Meeting Place Nanoworlds: The exhibition

What is as long as the equator and fits in a thimble: In the nanoTruck by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research the nanotechnology shows what it can do

One gramme of a tiny fibre with a diameter of just 155 nanometres is enough to reach around the globe once - i.e. a total of 40.000 kilometres. An extremely thin layer of the heatable special paint made of carbon nanomaterial can prevent black ice forming on steps or anywhere else dangerous. And a fluid consisting of billions of magnetic nanoparticles can take on a brain tumour without damaging the healthy tissue. Still a long way off?

Absolutely not! In the nanoTruck by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) nano research and practice are presented side by side showing an impressive spectrum of nanotechnological developments for almost every area of life: for the household, sport and leisure just as much as for building and living, information and communications, medicine and health. 

On a total of 100 square metres of mobile exhibition and event space the BMBF is showing forward looking research projects, therapeutical innovations and amazing new products from all areas of nanotechnology. Integrated into six theme worlds, over sixty mostly interactive exhibition objects bring the nanocosmos to life.

What is probably Germany's only mobile electron microscope makes "nano" visible showing what particles, layers & co can do: from scratch resistance and self cleaning up to fire protection. Four large displays form the content framework of the exhibition, steering attention to the "nano-country" Germany, work in accompanying safety research, the areas where nanotechnology can be used and the real dimensions of the world of the incredibly small. Multimedia terminals, audio points and nano-cinema offer any amount of deeper information, pictures, graphics, films and audio contributions.

Open, transparent, comprehensible

The mobile exhibit show concept in the nanoTruck follows the principle of open, transparent and comprehensible information and communication about the basis, research and application areas, opportunities and risk potential of nanotechnology. Independently or together with one of the scientists accompanying the nanoTruck on its Germany tour, who provide expert support for the BMBF project, visitors can get to the bottom of the basic principles of "nano nature" at numerous interactive exhibition stations. And thus learn to understand why the tiniest things can be giants and that in turn giants can also be tiny.

To do this they just have to take a look at the nanocube. The exhibit on the nanoTruck's top deck is dedicated to the question of how to store hydrogen as efficiently as possible to work as a clean fuel for fuel cells generating electricity. And MOFs ("Metal Organic Frameworks") have precisely these properties, offering a huge surface area in their countless gaps that enables them to bind and release hydrogen. Using a picture of a thimble full of MOFs, which together have a surface of around 75 per cent of a football pitch, it quickly becomes clear why tiny things can be giants. And why can't giants also be tiny? This is where organic solar cells come in.

They are based on light-sensitive, dye-like compounds and can be produced cheaply for large surfaces in series. Nanomaterials make it possible. They could be used on the window fronts of large office buildings very soon. Although the windows themselves are huge, their insides are dominated by nanolayers, nanomaterials and dyes coated onto glass or plastic supports. This new generation of solar cells provides the opportunity to intensively use renewable energies. 

Nanofibres, nanolayers, nanoparticles

Alongside nanofibres and nanolayers, nanoparticles also play an important role in the nanoTruck exhibition. Because the BMBF is consistently promoting a constructive discussion between science, politicians, industry and the public about their use and their effects – both positive and potentially negative.

Alongside spectacular exhibits such as the Nobel Prize-winning electron microscope invented by Prof. Ernst Ruska or the "spectrometer" used to quickly and reliably identify the size and stability of nanoparticles, there is a large display on the issue "Using opportunities - acting responsibly". This provides the most important key words for organised and individual meetings and discussions with the nanoTruck scientists, invited experts from different disciplines and members of the public interested in the exhibition.

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