Edmund Optics, a provider of optical components, announces the recipient of the 2017 Norman Edmund Inspiration Award receiving $5,000 in product donation. Justin Sambur, an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University in the United States, proposed a project which uses light sheet microscopy to directly visualize solar energy conversion processes along the length of a single nanowire. The long-term goal of this project is to inform materials scientists on how to synthesize the optimal electrode architecture for solar energy conversion applications.
One of the criteria for selecting the winner is to explain how the research project inspires others to pursue a career in optics or optical research. The goal of the project established by Mr. Sambur and his team is to inspire the next generation of scientists to engage in optics and nanoscience by developing a LEGO microscope that uses a smart phone camera to image single fluorescent nanoparticles. "Seeing is believing," said Sambur. "However, it is impossible for K-12 and most undergraduate science students to see nanoscale materials because they lack sophisticated imaging capabilities." The students learn first-hand the challenges associated with "seeing" single nanoparticles using visible light. His team developed step-by-step instructions that shows students how to determine the smart phone camera pixel size using a conventional metric ruler. Most importantly, the activity exposes young students to optical concepts and gives them hands-on experience using optical components, ultimately providing them with the rewarding experience of building a fully-functional optical microscope for nanoparticle imaging.
The Norman Edmund Inspiration Award honors the contributions made by Norman Edmund to advance the science of optics. The recipient of the award is chosen from among the 30 global finalists of the 2017 Educational Award in the Americas and Europe, who best represent the legacy of Mr. Edmund.