Nanoscience Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Nanoscience?

Nanoscience refers to the study, manipulation, and engineering of structures and materials on an ultra-small scale. A nanometre is one-millionth of a millimeter, large molecules like plastics or proteins are measured with this scale.

Nanotechnology includes the techniques used to create structures on a scale below 100nm, which can be used in new generations of electronics, sensors, and computer chips. Many of today’s global challenges in the environment and health can be addressed by nanotechnology intervention.

Nanoscience can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. Many industries use nanotechnology for things like semiconductors and electronics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive, food, agriculture, and more.

Making devices at the nanoscale can reduce energy costs, increase speed or add functionality. Students in Nanoscience learn the basic physics and chemistry underlying these applications and how they relate to these applications and industries.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Nanoscience courses in the following subject areas:

  • MSc Nanotechnology – The study of nanotechnology, device design and innovation, and the creation of nanostructures.
  • Science with Nanotechnology – The study of physics and chemistry with a focus on nanoscience and nanotechnology.
  • Master’s Programme in Nano Bioscience – The study of molecular modeling, molecular motors, imaging and analysis, atomic force microscopy, light scattering in tissues, and organic solar cells.

Studying Nanoscience in college

Many full-time Nanoscience courses run anywhere from 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider relevant work experience or work shadowing in a laboratory environment. Some degrees will include a work placement or a year out in the industry. There may also be some opportunities available to start an internship or join a research project.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Nanoscience you will typically be able to get started in a career within a university or research institution, government or private laboratory, hospital or clinic, private research facilities, and industry.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are working on research contracts or programs. You’ll typically work a 37-hour week, although you might have to put in overtime to meet deadlines. In education, you may have to work irregular hours due to teaching responsibilities or limitations on the time to access equipment. Nanotechnologists in the industry may have to work to fit in with shift patterns or commercial deadlines. Part-time work may be possible.

As a nanotechnologist, you’ll be mostly based in the lab, but may need to work in other settings depending on the nature of your current project. Some research can involve working with dangerous or toxic materials under strict safety protocols.

Jobs are widely available but posts related to specialist research may be limited to fewer institutions. There may be opportunities to work abroad in particular specialisms, so a willingness to work abroad, at least for limited periods, may increase your prospects.

You may need to travel to visit other laboratories and abroad to set up and carry out experiments and tests. You may also attend national or international conferences and meetings. Funding is often available for such meetings depending on individual grants.

Related jobs include:

  • Lab Technician
  • Researcher
  • Pharmaceutical Product Manager
  • Production Engineer
  • Scientific Officer
  • Applications Engineer
  • Director of Product Marketing
  • Director of Research
  • Holography and Optics Technician
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Market Development Manager
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Optical Assembly Technician

Further study

After completing a course in Nanoscience you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as aviation and aerospace engineering companies, defense companies, electronics manufacturers, health and pharmaceutical companies, and food and drink manufacturers.


Are there any particular qualities you need to study Nanoscience?

  • You will need to have technical, scientific skills, analytical skills, and a logical approach to problem-solving.
  • You should have a good basis for numerical skills and be an excellent communicator and presenter.
  • IT skills and the ability to use computer-controlled equipment will also be important as well as the ability to write reports and papers for publication. 
  • You will often be working within a team and on a budget so teamwork and project management skills will be beneficial.

Where can I study Nanoscience?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· The word nano is from the Greek word ‘Nanos’ meaning Dwarf. It is a prefix used to describe “one billionth” of something.

· Nanoscience works on a scale 1000 times smaller than anything that can be seen with an optical microscope.

· Nanotechnology is already applied commercially in products ranging from mobile phones, computer discs, tennis rackets, and golf clubs to sunscreens and cosmetics.

· Nanotechnology was first introduced in 1959 by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. He proposed using normal-sized robots to construct smaller replicas of themselves and then using the new set to manufacture an even smaller set, and so on until the molecular scale is reached.

· In 1989, using an atomic force microscope, IBM engineer Don Eigler became the first person to move and control a single atom.

Mariza Halliday

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