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Malkiat Johal Authors New Book on Understanding Nanomaterials

Book cover for Understanding Nanomaterials

Malkiat Johal, associate professor chemistry, is the author of the new book Understanding Nanomaterials (CRC Press, 2011). Written as an introduction to anyone interested in research in the field, the book assumes only a basic level of competency in physics, chemistry and biology while providing insights into the fundamental principals that govern the fabrication, characterization and the application of nanomaterials.

Johal has taught Nanomaterials every spring since 2007, and the book is a direct result of the class. “Because nanomaterials is an emerging and changing field of study,” he explains, “much of the material was not readily accessible to undergraduates. I wanted to expose this area to freshman/sophomore students.”

For Johal, what makes nanomaterials so intriguing is “the interdisciplinary area of the research and its relevance to many existing or emerging technologies. Some examples include novel photovoltaic devices, drug delivery systems, and chemical/biological sensors. Therefore, the research draws many students with different interests. The fact that these students are working together on different projects provides an exciting environment where new ideas are generated.”

According to a review by David Smith in Chemistry World, “There is no doubt that nanoscience is increasingly underpinning new developments in modern technology. As the concepts of nanotechnology, which involve working at length scales of 1-100 nm, become increasingly dominant, it becomes ever more important that we educate our undergraduate students in the fundamentals of the subject…This book clearly begins to demonstrate how nanotechnology can be taught as a coherent discipline.”

Johal earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and later served as a post-doctoral researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked on the nonlinear optical properties of nanoassemblies. At Pomona, his research activities focus on using self-assembly and ionic adsorption processes to fabricate nano-materials for optical and biochemical applications. Undergraduate research students are heavily involved in both the construction of and the detailed characterization of ultra-thin assemblies. This summer, students in his lab are working on the use of piezoelectric and optical sensors to monitor biological phenomena at the solid-aqueous interface.