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published by the VDI Technologiezentrum
supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research
designer: the Lekkerwerken Design & Media
Available Languages: English, German, Spanish, French
This website provides an interactive exploration of the physics of microscopic systems, from the scale of a centimeter to the structure of the atomic nucleus. Three example "nano-journeys" are provided into a human cell, a light-emitting diode, and a computer memory chip. Each stage of a journey explores structures a factor of 10 smaller than the previous stage.

High-resolution digital photography, scanning electron microscopy, and computer animations are used to depict the structures at the various levels. The website also provides background information at each level about the physics, engineering, and biology of the structures studied. The size of the structures at each level are compared to a meter by analogy with the relative sizes of the Earth and common objects.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Semiconductors and Tubes
= Semiconductors
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
= Scaling
Modern Physics
- Nuclear Physics
= Models of the Nucleus
Other Sciences
- Computer Science
- Life Sciences
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- General Publics
- application/flash
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2005 VDI Technologiezentrum
Powers of 10, Powers of Ten, SEM, electron microscope, nanoscale images, nanotechnology, scale, scanning electron microscopy, structure of matter
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 19, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 16, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 6-8: 4D/M6c. Carbon and hydrogen are common elements of living matter.
  • 6-8: 4D/M9. Materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4D/H1. Atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 9-12: 4D/H5. Scientists continue to investigate atoms and have discovered even smaller constituents of which neutrons and protons are made.
  • 9-12: 4D/H7b. An enormous variety of biological, chemical, and physical phenomena can be explained by changes in the arrangement and motion of atoms and molecules.
  • 9-12: 4D/H9b. Some atoms and molecules are highly effective in encouraging the interaction of others.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M5. Human eyes respond to only a narrow range of wavelengths of electromagnetic waves-visible light. Differences of wavelength within that range are perceived as differences of color.
  • 9-12: 4F/H3a. When electrically charged objects undergo a change in motion, they produce electromagnetic waves around them.
  • 9-12: 4F/H6ab. Waves can superpose on one another, bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by materials they enter, and change direction when entering a new material. All these effects vary with wavelength.
  • 9-12: 4F/H6c. The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 9-12: 4G/H4ab. In many conducting materials, such as metals, some of the electrons are not firmly held by the nuclei of the atoms that make up the material. In these materials, applied electric forces can cause the electrons to move through the material, producing an electric current. In insulating materials, such as glass, the electrons are held more firmly, making it nearly impossible to produce an electric current in those materials.
  • 9-12: 4G/H4d. Semiconducting materials differ greatly in how well they conduct electrons, depending on the exact composition of the material.

11. Common Themes

11D. Scale
  • 6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.
  • 9-12: 11D/H1. Representing very large or very small numbers in terms of powers of ten makes it easier to perform calculations using those numbers.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 6-8: 12B/M9. Express numbers like 100, 1,000, and 1,000,000 as powers of ten.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(VDI Technologiezentrum, Dusseldorf, 2005), WWW Document, (
Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal, (VDI Technologiezentrum, Dusseldorf, 2005), <>.
APA Format
Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal. (2005). Retrieved January 25, 2021, from VDI Technologiezentrum:
Chicago Format
Lekkerwerken Design & Media, and German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal. Dusseldorf: VDI Technologiezentrum, 2005. (accessed 25 January 2021).
MLA Format
Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal. Dusseldorf: VDI Technologiezentrum, 2005. Lekkerwerken Design & Media, and German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. 25 Jan. 2021 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal}, Publisher = {VDI Technologiezentrum}, Volume = {2021}, Number = {25 January 2021}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%T Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal
%D 2005
%I VDI Technologiezentrum
%C Dusseldorf
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2005
%T Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal
%I VDI Technologiezentrum
%V 2021
%N 25 January 2021
%9 application/flash

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

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Nanoreisen: Adventures Beyond the Decimal:

Supplements NanoSense: Size Matters - Introduction to Nanoscience

A 10-day multimedia curriculum unit for high school that focuses on promoting understanding of size at the nanoscale, instruments used to explore matter at the nano-level, and example applications.

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as Science, Optics & You: Secret Worlds - The Universe Within

A visualization of scale of the universe, beginning with a distant view of the Milky Way and descending through successive orders of magnitude into the molecular structure of a single leaf cell.

relation by Caroline Hall

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