Teaching: academic publications (en): 20 articles

20- The Efficacy of Haptic Simulations to Teach Students with Visual Impairments About Temperature and Pressure
Journal of visual impairment & blindness. 01/2014; 108(1):55-61.
This study investigated the efficacy of a real-time, interactive visuohaptic (visualization and force feedback) simulation to teach middle school students about particulate motion and concepts of thermal energy, pressure and random motion. The study focused on teaching students about molecular motion with technology enhanced with the ability to feel the collisions of particles under different conditions. A key pedagogical component of the simulation is to enable students to experience forces through their own somatosensory system in real time. Participants included 78 middle school students who completed a pre-, post- and delayed post-assessment of knowledge and as completed a 50 minute investigation of particle motion using either the visuohaptic or a visual simulation. The results showed that there were significant differences in the knowledge of both groups of students from pre to post-assessment. There were no significant differences in post scores between those students that used visuohaptic technology for the investigation compared to those who used only a visual simulation. The implications of the study for teaching science with haptic technologies are discussed.

B. Hingant, J. Chevrier, V.Albe
Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education 
Volume 13Issue 4, 2013
Special Issue: Courting Controversy: Socioscientific Issues and School Science and Technology


M. Gail Jones , Ron Blonder , Grant E. Gardner , Virginie Albe , Michael Falvo & Joel Chevrier (2013): Nanotechnology and Nanoscale Science: Educational challenges, International Journal of Science Education, DOI:10.1080/09500693.2013.771828


17- Teaching Classical Mechanics using Smartphones 

Joel Chevrier, Laya Madani, Simon Ledenmat, Ahmad Bsiesy
Using a personal computer and a smartphone, iMecaProf is a software that
provides a complete teaching environment for practicals associated to a
Classical Mechanics course. iMecaProf proposes a visual, real time and
interactive representation of data transmitted by a smartphone using the
formalism of Classical Mechanics. Using smartphones is more than using a set of
sensors. iMecaProf shows students that important concepts of physics they here
learn, are necessary to control daily life smartphone operations. This is
practical introduction to mechanical microsensors that are nowadays a key
technology in advanced trajectory control. First version of iMecaProf can be
freely downloaded. It will be tested this academic year in Universit\'e Joseph
Fourier (Grenoble, France)

16 - Development of a Teaching Sequence on Nanotechnology documented by an Analysis of Controversies

Dr Joel Chevrier, University Joseph Fourier (UJF) of Grenoble
September 26th, 2012
Woodland Commons, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Blog and Discussion
See the talk here

What are the ways school science can effectively empower high school pupils to understand and engage in debates on nanotechnologies. The manner controversial questions can be taught in science classrooms has been investigated for a few years. In particular, studies undertaken within the research movement of "socioscientific issues" (Albe, 2009; Sadler, 2009) try to identify how school science can help students to develop abilities to participate in debates and make informed decisions on controversial issues. Here nanotechnologies are regarded as a socioscientific issue and our main purpose is to identify how a learning sequence can help students to critically consider the many discourses held by different actors concerned by these developments. 

To avoid making implicit educational choices, we first completed an analysis of controversies raised by nanotechnologies as recommended by Albe (2009). To carry it out we relied on sociology of science methodologies developed to map controversies. We used documents produced for the French public debate on nanotechnologies that took place during Winter 2009-2010 where every actor willing to participate the debate could sum up in four pages their stances and arguments. We also added to this corpus some texts by a French group opposing nanotechnologies that refused to participate the debate but regularly commented it and interacted with the commission organizing these meetings. 

Then, following a Design-Based Research perspective (Cobb, Confrey, di Sessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003), we worked with four high school teachers and implemented activities in their classrooms. In the first activity, pupils had to study some documents used for our analysis of controversies. These documents were selected to address the different dimensions identified through this analysis. Next, throughout a role-play, students confronted the arguments put forward by an actor, with the case of other actors. This role-play was followed by a whole-class discussion where pupils could express their opinions and react on the arguments exchanged during the role-play. Following this first activity, the students took part in an information retrieval on the Internet to delve into the different facets of the controversy and presented the results of their quests to the class. We summed up the elements put forward by pupils through these presentations and produced a text summarizing the aspects of the debates they deemed important. Then, the last activity of this learning sequence consisted in discussing and modifying this text as well as in one case, preparing questions for a scientist that would come to the high school to exchange (Exchange or give a lecture?) with the students on nanotechnologies.

15 - Learning force concepts using visual trajectory and haptic force information at the elementary school level

Young, J.J.; Stolfi, C.; Tan, H.Z.; Chevrier, J.; Dick, B.; Bertoline, G.; 
Haptic Interface Res. Lab., Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN, USA 
World Haptics Conference (WHC), 2011 IEEE  21-24 June 2011, 391 - 396, Istanbul 
The present study investigated the use of visual trajectory and haptic force information in learning concepts involving force. Specifically, learning modules for instructing buoyant forces were developed for use with a computer monitor and a force feedback device. Students from an elementary school at the fourth and sixth grades were recruited to participate in the study. The students were separated into visual and visuohaptic groups to measure the possible benefits haptic feedback might provide as compared to the vision-alone condition. A 10-question content test was developed and administered before and after the learning activities. The pretest and posttest scores showed that all students benefited from the computer simulations. The visuohaptic group did not perform significantly better than the visual group. An important finding was that the fourth graders learned as much as the sixth graders, despite their younger age and little prior exposure to concepts such as density and volume, which are important for understanding buoyancy. Future work will design instructional and assessment materials that focus more on the haptic modality.

14 - The role of visuohaptic simulations in conceptualizing non-contact electrostatic forces

Hong Z. Tan, Deborah Bennett, Gary Bertoline, Joel Chevrier, Gail Jones, and Ron Reifenberger,
to appear in theProceedings of the 9th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2011), Lyon, France, September 5-9, 2011.

13 - Multisensory simulator to discover properties of heat at nanoscale (Brownian motion)

Video presenting our multi sensori simulator (visuo-haptic-audio) on the brownian motion.

YouTube Video

Brownian motion is a characteristic of matter around us at temperature T especially in living matter.

Visual presentations of associated random trajectories of nanoparticles based on numerical simulations are numerous in youtube.

The force at the origin of the brownian motion is here presented and put in the user fingers. 

12 - Smartphones used as individual experimental platforms when teaching classical mechanics   

Accepted for oral presentation at  World Conference on Physics Education July 2012

Smartphones used as individual experimental platforms when teaching classical mechanics  

Joel Chevrier1, Simon Ledenmat2, Laya Madani2, Ahmad Bsiesy2

Université Joseph Fourier - BP 53 38041 Grenoble cedex 9

CIME Nanotech, Grenoble INP/UJF 3 parvis Louis Néel, BP 257, 38016 Grenoble Cedex 1

Among the main topics taught in classical mechanics are: vectors, forces, motion, momentum, energy, angular motion, angular momentum, gravity, moving frames, and the motion of rigid bodies. Beside one or two cameras and a microphone, most smartphones used daily by students include MEMS (MicroElectroMechanicalSystems) 3D sensors such as a accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscope. Smartphones can send data of these sensors to a computer for treatment and visualisation at the rate of about 100Hz. This immediately means that the smartphone spatial orientation is known real time through Euler angles. Its acceleration vector is also constantly measured in 3D up to a point that real time numerical integration can be done to obtain the smartphone velocity vector. Vector components of the gravity and earth magnetic fields are also available. In order to enter the moving frame investigation and the vector representation, we have developed a software that represents in real time during manipulation, the smartphone orientation and its two vectors: acceleration and speed. This is a scientific version of the iPhone presentation by Steve Jobs [1] where he says that thanks to all theses MEMS, the iPhone 4 is perfect for gaming. It is also perfect to teach physics and to experimentally approach space and time concepts, to investigate and describe object movements in frames. We have developed and tested lab sessions at the freshmen level in physics and mechanics. Experimental ability of students has been evaluated on the basis of these practicals. Lab sessions have included : i) smartphone spatial position analysis through Euler angles, ii) measuring acceleration in an elevator (vertical velocity and position calculated using these data), iii) 2D rotation of swivel stool: simultaneous measurements of rotation angle θ, angular speed dθ/dt, and angular acceleration d2θ/dt2, iv) pendulum and mass-spring experiments to again measure and analyse acceleration, speed and position, v) determination of the friction coefficients. Questions arise about pedagogical strategies: a) smartphones are general consumer products designed to enter our everyday life. To meet this goal, they have to be so sophisticated that they can be turned into a mobile personnel physics lab. A new look on technology presence in their life for young students. b) physics out of the lab: one can use smartphones with students to analyse displacement of cars, bicycles, skiers,... classical mechanics class and real life. 

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORcu-c-qnjg 

11 - Nanotechnologies produce high tech low cost tools for nanoeducation: the USB MEMS accelerometer case

Oral presentation at the 22nd International Conference on Chemical Education and to 11th European Conference on Research in Chemical Education. Roma July 2012.

Nanotechnologies produce high tech low cost tools for nanoeducation:

the USB MEMS accelerometer case

Joel Chevrier1, Elsa Jardinier2, Bertrand Lacoste3, Simon Ledenmat4, Ahmad Bsiesy4, Gorka Arrizabalaga5, Jean François Mainguet5, Eric Martinet6

Université Joseph Fourier - BP 53 38041 Grenoble cedex 9

IMEP, Grenoble INP - Minatec, 3 rue Parvis Louis Néel BP 257 38016 Grenoble cedex 1 FRANCE

INAC/SPINTEC, CEA/CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, France

CIME Nanotech, 3 parvis Louis Néel, BP 257, 38016 Grenoble Cedex 1

CEA-Leti, MINATEC Campus, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 GRENOBLE Cedex 9

Cité Scolaire Internationale Europole, 4 place de Sfax -BP 1570- 38012 Grenoble 

Discovery and study of orders of magnitude, identifications of interactions at short scales, or observation of invisible movements can be based on instruments coming from nanotechnology [1,2,3,4]. Among three examples, the first one is the USB Microscope [1]. There are now numerous different types of these PC connected microscopes [1,5]. Usually based on a high quality 2D sensor designed for imaging and on a rather simple optical set up, they are low cost and can easily be used to observe the world diversity from less than 1mm to 10 μm. Details of plants, of insects but also of MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) and of Atomic Force Microscope cantilever are easily observed. The second example [2] is the simple transformation of a smartphone into an optical microscope that can observe red blood cells. The optical set up added to the smartphone is a single spherical lens. It is essentially the system originally developed by A. van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). The difference lies in the detector. In XVIII century, it was a bare eye. Nowadays it is several million pixel 2D advanced photon detector sold at general consumer price. The third example we refer to is the one we have recently developed.  It simply connects an advanced but again very cheap 1D MEMS accelerometer to a PC and uses the software Audacity to record and to listen the detected solid vibrations. This then becomes a simple tool to explore micro/nanovibrations of real world around us. A walking ant on an aluminium paper is heard. Students discover that they can hear their voice by detecting the vibrations of their scull. Having in class, a set of kits based on USB Microscopes and on USB MEMS Accelerometer is affordable. To enter a route toward small scales with end at nanoscale, either by seeing or by hearing, these semiconductor sensors are deliberately misuses. The paradox is that the resulting cheap instruments have at heart nano/microtechnologies produced on large scale and at low cost. 

  1. L. Bell, R. Bell, http://www.edutopia.org/invigorating-science-teaching-high-tech-low-cost-tool
  2. Smith ZJ, Chu K, Espenson AR, Rahimzadeh M, Gryshuk A, et al. (2011) PLoS ONE 6(3)
  3. https://sites.google.com/site/nanoschoolcime/Nano@School, CIMENanotech UJF GrenobleINP MINATEC;
  4. http://www.nanokoulu.net/en; University of Jyvaskyla, Finland 
  5. http://smallworld-mondepetit.blogspot.com/, Nano@School, CIME Nanotech UJF/Grenoble INP/MINATEC
Submitted to 22nd International Conference on Chemical Education and to 11th European Conference on Research in Chemical Education. Roma July 2012.

Joel Chevrier1, Maël Bosson2, Simon Brenet3, Anthony Carpentier4, Ahmad Bsiesy5, Stephane Redon2

1-Université Joseph Fourier - BP 53 38041 Grenoble cedex 9
2-NANO-D – INRIA Grenoble – Rhône-Alpes/CNRS Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann, 655, avenue de l’Europe
Montbonnot, 38334 Saint Ismier Cedex, France
3-Département de Chimie Moléculaire, CNRS-Université Joseph Fourier, BP-53, 38041 Grenoble, France
4-Laboratoire de Génie Electrique de Grenoble (G2ELab), CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/Grenoble INP, BP 46, 38402 Saint Martin d’Hères Cedex, France
5- CIME Nanotech, Grenoble INP/UJF, 3 parvis Louis Néel, BP 257, 38016 Grenoble Cedex 1

9 - Implementation of perception and action at nanoscale 

Proceedings of ENACTIVE/07 
4th International Conference on Enactive Interfaces Grenoble, France, November 19th-22nd, 2007

Posted: January 30, 2008

Shaking hands with a virus - getting all touchy-feely with nanotechnology
(Nanowerk Spotlight)

Our sense of touch connects us to the world around us and is an integral part of how we experience things, both physically and emotionally. In the virtual world of remote-control robots, scientific models or computer games, users generally lack tactile, or haptic (from the Greek wordHaphe, pertaining to the sense of touch), feedback, which either makes delicate manipulative tasks difficult or keeps the subject purely visual and often inscrutable (an electron microscope image of a nanoscale object, for instance). The desire for natural and intuitive human machine interaction has led to the inclusion of haptics in man-machine interfaces. The user is able to control inputs to the system through hand movements and in turn receives feedback through tactile stimulation in the hands. Sophisticated, state-of-the-art haptic user-interface software is capable of adding interactive, realistic virtual touch capabilities to human-computer interactions. Among the uses are medical applications, remote vehicle or robotic control, military applications, and video games. Users are said to feel realistic weight, shape, texture, dimension, dynamics, and force effects. Applying the use of real-time virtual reality and multisensory user interface to nanoscience, scientists in France have begun to open up the otherwise only scientifically described reality of the nanoworld to a non-scientific public.While our five senses are doing a reasonably good job at representing the world around us on a macro-scale, we have no existing intuitive representation of the nanoworld, ruled by laws entirely foreign to our experience. This is where molecules mingle to create proteins; where you wouldn't recognize water as a liquid; and where minute morphological changes would reveal how much 'solid' things such as the ground or houses are constantly vibrating and moving."A central challenge is how we can put our hands on scientifically explored parts of reality that cannot be reached by our senses and whose rules are completely foreign to our representation of reality" Dr. Joël Chevrier tells Nanowerk. "Since science is full of abstract descriptions it is hard to represent it in an easy way. But thanks to computer sciences and robotics we now have the necessary tools to use human senses to explore, in real-time, model worlds as they are described by science, or even true reality when coupling these multisensory interfaces to real nanosensors and nanoactuators."Chevrier, a professor at the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, together with his collaborators hopes to open up a completely new field for our perception. This new 'playground' – using haptic, vision and sound interfaces – is the world we are living in; but explored at scales entirely foreign to everything we experience around us."In the nanoworld simulacrum that we have begun to build, object identification will be based on the intrinsic physical and chemical properties of the probed entities, on their interactions with sensors, and on the final choices made in building a multisensory interface so that these objects become coherent elements of the human sphere of action and perception" says Chevrier.In other words, we might be able to touch, feel and interact with the nano-realm which otherwise is not open to our direct experience. Chevrier hopes that this will be a major step in helping non-scientists understand nanoscience and nanotechnology. The scientifically described part of our reality, much of what mathematics, physics or chemistry – and certainly nanoscience and nanotechnology – is about, usually is inaccessible to people not trained in these subjects (i.e. to most of us). Opening up this part of reality to everybody could go a long way in creating interest in science education, science jobs and help a better informed public to lead a more objective discussion on the pros and cons of nanotechnology.Rather than using the abstract descriptions and experiments of a classical science education, the French team has begun to use real-time virtual reality combined with a multisensory human-machine interface to allow the direct perception of and interaction with the nanoworld."One way to develop this extension of the sphere where our senses are efficient can be based on nanosensors and nanoactuators " explains Chevrier. "Another approach is to use virtual environments which can bring the nanoworld to us through real-time multisensory interfaces. This can dramatically enhance the possibilities for easy exploration of remote realities foreign to our senses and can trigger a spontaneous motivation in users, similar to the one observed in videogame players."In a presentation at the 4th International Conference on Enactive Interfaces last November in Grenoble ("Implementation of perception and action at nanoscale" – pdf download 376 KB), the French team describe a 1D virtual nanomanipulator, part of the Cité des Sciences EXPO NANO in Paris, that is the first realization based on this idea.Chevrier and his team built a virtual atomic force microscope (AFM) and coupled it to an advanced haptic interface as well as a sonification and visualization system. The resulting instrument allows its user to experience contact of a surface at the nanoscale. About 10,000 people have used this demonstrator during three exhibitions in Grenoble, Paris and Geneva.


Image of the virtual machine. Left: image of a real Atomic Force Microscope (AFM); Center: elastic model of the nanoprobe, the nanoworld and interaction, based on mass and spring combination. Right: the user interface is a multisensorial platform. (Image: Sylvain Marlière, PhD thesis).A central part of this concept is not a new idea.

In their paper, the researchers write that it goes back to the earliest days of experimental science: the use of a telescope by Galileo to observe the Moon and to come to the immediate conclusion that the Moon is Earth-like. As immediately emphasized by Galileo, this dramatic change in the human representation of the universe is caused by direct use of senses technically extended by an instrument and not by a posteriori rational demonstration."Our proposal can be seen as a revival of this famous tale" says Chevrier. "There is however a major difference. Two points can illustrate the need for new approaches in implementing the nanoscale in virtual environments: 1) As nanoscale is gradually approached, continuous description no longer stands and the molecular discontinuous structure of matter is revealed. Atomic scale is a radical rupture with our common experience that is based on the objective existence of isolated continuous objects. 2) can we manage to 'see' and 'touch' an electron, a particle that has a mass and an electric charge but has no classical material spatial extension in the sense of a material sphere, although it is at the root of the stability of matter. In fact seeing and touching an electron has no intrinsic meaning. Electron-based objects can however be created and our interaction with these unusual objects defined."

.....In the more immediate future, advanced virtual nanomanipulators based on the French scientists' ideas could become exciting tools to explore the boundaries between the nano- and the macroscopic worlds – touching nanoscale water, shaking hands with an insect, crushing a virus between your fingers, playing nano-lego. They could also lead to a new generation of professional lab tools that allow nanoscale manipulation with precise control of tool interaction with nanobject.Of course, this first instrument built by Chevrier's team is more Galileo telescope than Hubble space observatory. But it is an interesting beginning that one day might result in virtual worlds that will allow us to go all weird at the nanoscale.By Michael Berger, Copyright 2008 Nanowerk LLC

7 - Teenagers and Nanotechnologies 

own Bag Speaker Series

May 26, 2011 10:00 AM | 
Inspire, Innovate, Educate.
Friday Institute for Innovative Education

6 - How to display science since images have no mass 

Joël Chevrier1, Hong Z. Tan2, Florence Marchi1, Gail Jones3

1-Institut Néel, CNRS/UJF 25 rue des Martyrs BP 166 38042 Grenoble cedex 9 France,

2-Haptic Interface Research Laboratory, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

3-Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. 

reprinted from http://arxiv.org/pdf/1103.5432


Education, science, in fact the whole society, extensively use images. Between us and the world are the visual displays. Screens, small and large, individual or not, are everywhere. Images are increasingly the 2D substrate of our virtual interaction with reality. However images will never support a complete representation of the reality. Three-dimensional representations will not change that. Images are primarily a spatial representation of our world dedicated to our sight. Key aspects such as energy and the associated forces are not spatially materialized. In classical physics, interaction description is based on Newton equations with trajectory and force as the dual central concepts. Images can in real time show all aspects of trajectories but not the associated dynamical aspects described by forces and energies. Contrary to the real world, the world of images opposes no constrain, nor resistance to our actions. Only the physical quantities, that do not contain mass in their dimension can be satisfactory represented by images. Often symbols such as arrows are introduced to visualize the force vectors.


Forces are invisible


It is only with the use of combined visual and force displays that include a screen and a force feedback

system or haptic device, that individuals can perceive in real time a virtual but consistent exploration of the represented reality. A haptic device can be defined, for this non-technical discussion, as a pointing device that responds to the displacement imposed by the user, by returning a force. For example, if the user moves a mass visualized on the screen, he or she will have to simultaneously apply the necessary real force to oppose the virtual weight.

Thanks to this technologically enhanced perception, anyone can explore inaccessible aspects of reality such as the nanoworld. But who cares about perceiving forces. Certainly science teachers who design nanoscale instruction care, as well as gamers, especially the ones focused on serious games and interactive interfaces. Beside in the field of education, one teaches teenagers that are connected to multimedia in average 7 hours a day as recently reported [1]. This means intense exposition essentially through screens to a truncated representation of reality. Going beyond, combination of visual and force displays can provide our perception with an immediate and reliable access to essential scientific ideas. We shall now examine how this applies to atom interactions.

The first lines of Galileo’s book, the Starry Messenger [2] states: «Great indeed are the things which in this brief treatise I propose for observation and consideration by all students of nature. I say great, because of the excellence of the subject itself, the entirely unexpected and novel character of these things, and finally because of the instrument by means of which they have been revealed to our senses.» The instrument proposed by Galileo to all students of nature is of course the telescope. He insists on the fact that«these things» are revealed to our senses thanks to this instrument. For Galileo, the sense of interest is sight. Today, visual displays are everywhere and they carry images from space but also from the whole world. It is worth noticing here that our sense of hearing is also enhanced by advanced technologies that include loudspeakers and earphones. But touch is only now rapidly appearing with recent devices. The development of haptic tools, which can now add force displays to our perception, have increasingly been the focus of a technological research. Early haptic technologies resulted in an array of haptic devices with different degrees of effectiveness and widely different prices. Now some are highly advanced systems [3,4,5] and some are very inexpensive [6]. Although the less expensive devices are limited in their time response and the ability to represent smaller forces, they can still be used to introduce users to the existence of a force and to its key properties.

The question now arises: can force displays be part of a new, albeit virtual, Galileo-type of instrument? Are they opening a new frontier in the way we can perceive parts of reality that are normally remote to our perception?The goal of Galileo’s telescope is for students of nature quite explicit: «In this way one may learn with all the certainty of sense evidence that the moon is not robed in a smooth and polished surface but is in fact rough and uneven, covered everywhere, just like the earth’s surface, with huge prominences, deep valleys, and chasms.»


Hands on exploration of atomic interactions


Is there an equivalent of moon observation by the telescope that we can use for haptic displays? Where shall we put our hands (if technologically possible) so that the direct perception of a force will result immediately in new facts that we shall never forget, but that are usually taught only in advanced courses? This program has been written by Richard P. Feynman 50 years ago [7]: “If, some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed and only one sentence passed on to next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms -- little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another.”

How can these points be turned into a shared and common knowledge? The first one seems fulfilled. Everybody is convinced that matter is made of atoms. This is certainly a great-success achieved in the past century. At school, one manipulates models of atoms and molecules with hands using the Balls and Sticks (B&S) model. There are numerous illustrations on the Internet of ways to represent perpetual thermal or Brownian motion. Not surprising, it is much more difficult to find ways to teach the associated Langevin random force. A challenge is to find ways to introduce trajectory and force characteristics of Brownian motion using combined visual and force displays. We shall not go any further in this direction here.

Ball and stick models represent many aspects of the atomic model such as atomic sizes, bond lengths and orientations but do not represent information about atomic interactions. A key limitation of ball and stick models is that they do not provide a direct perception of the attraction and repulsion between atoms, i.e. the energetic of the chemical bond.

At the human scale, we experience repulsion daily: objects are perceived as being separated and as not overlapping. This is essentially a consequence of the Pauli principle that indeed comes directly from the nature of the atom. Force displays coupled with Atomic Force Microscopes [8,9], either virtual or real, working in contact mode have been used over the last ten years to allow individuals to experience repulsion at different scales. This repulsion is essentially as equally forceful at all scales when transferred by force displays. This scale invariance does not change our way of looking at object interactions whatever their sizes. Indeed this is why B&S models can be representations of atom combinations and can be used so simply at our scale. It is primarily the sharpness of the atomic repulsion that allows us to model atoms as balls [10]. Atomic repulsion is implicitly represented in our fingers when we manipulate B&S models. Direct contact between objects at the human scale is essentially due to the same atomic repulsion at the nanoscale. When using B&S models, our perception of atoms is then not challenged.

To the contrary, attraction between objects that comes from atom interaction is not accessible to our senses without the help of an instrument. Attraction between atoms and nanoobjects is an essential consequence of atom behavior and is universal at the nanoscale. Students do not typically learn about this universal behavior of matter at the nanoscale until they reach an advanced level of study. The gecko lizard, now the star of the nano world, spectacularly manifests the importance of nanoscale attractive forces. This lizard, with its nanostructured feet can walk on the ceiling [11]. It shows at the human scale that there must be an attraction that we cannot perceive. New and detailed images of the nanostructured feet have led to the development of new nanotechnologies and associated adhesives.

Force displays as educational tools [12,13,14]

Using the force displays with visual displays, a virtual haptic B&S educational module can allow for the hands-on perception of atomic interactions. Once used, one does not tend to forget that there is an attractive interaction between atoms and between nanoobjects.

We can now experience with haptic modeling the forces that exist as we move atoms or molecules closer to each other, first modeling the attractive van der Waals interaction then representing the much stronger iono- covalent attraction characteristics of chemical bonding and finally representing short range repulsion. If used in science museum for a large audience, people can explore atom interactions and the associated applications such as molecular bonding at the origin of SOI silicon wafers [15]. If embedded in science instruction, students can

now use haptic computer technologies to have a direct and personal experience with atomic interactions as they build molecules on screen.

A machine that enables the user to experience non contact interaction at nanoscale [16,17] has already been built for the Expo Nano public exhibition in Europe [18]. The user manipulates either a virtual blind cane at our scale, the «macrostick», to touch a hard surface (no attraction involved) or a nanostick with a limited stiffness to touch a substrate at the nanoscale. The macrostick is a reference with no surprising behavior whereas the nanostick irreversibly jumps to contact as the user approaches the stick too close to the surface. The visitor experiences the types of attractive interactions that the gecko experiences when walking on the ceiling. Close to 200 000 of people have used this new tool across Europe. In other contexts, students in middle and high school have used haptic devices to manipulate and experiment with materials at the nanoscale through an Internet connection to an atomic force microscope[19].

This use of force displays combined with visual displays to manually explore acting forces in science is not limited to the nanoworld. It can be used to discover a new force and its properties (buoyancy, Lorentz force, quantum confinement or Brownian motion...). It is a new tool to help building the visual representation of a force as a vector [20].

The advancements with new haptic tools allow educators at all levels to open a new world of science to students and to ultimately help these students directly face the forces and their properties that lie beyond human perception although they are central in science and technology.




1. T. Lewin , If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online, January 20, (2010), New York Times 

2. G. Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius or The Starry Messenger, (1610) 

3. H. Tappeiner, S. Skaff, T. Szabo and R. Hollis, Remote Haptic Feedback from a Dynamic Running

Machine, 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Kobe International

Conference Center Kobe, Japan, (2009), pp. 12-17; http://butterflyhaptics.com/ 

4. J.-L. Florens and C. Cadoz, in Representation of Musical Signals, Chapter: The physical Model, Modelisation and Simulation Systems of the Instrumental Universe, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, (1991) pp. 227–268; ERGOS: Multi-degrees of Freedom and Versatile Force- Feedback Panoply, J.-L. Florens, A. Luciani, C. Cadoz, N. Castagné, Proceedings of EuroHaptics 2004,

Munich Germany, June 5-7, (2004), pp. 356-360; http://acroe.imag.fr/ergos-technologies 

5. http://www.forcedimension.com/ 

6. http://home.novint.com/ 

7. R. P. Feynman. Lectures on Physics, Vol I, (1963), pp. I-2

8. R.M. Taylor II and R. Superfine, Advanced Interfaces to Scanned-Probe Microscopes, Handbook of Nanostructured Materials and Nanotechnology, Vol. 2, H. S. Nalwa ed. New York: Academic Press, (1999), pp. 271–308.

9. S. Marliere, F. Marchi, J. L. Florens, A. Luciani, J. Chevrier, An Augmented Reality Nanomanipulator for Learning Nanophysics: The "NanoLearner” Platform, CW'08: Proceedings of the 2008 International Conference on Cyberworlds, (2008)

10. T. C. Ozawa; Sung J. Kang; "Balls & Sticks: Easy-to-Use Structure Visualization and Animation Creating Program" J. Appl. Cryst. 37 (2004) p. 679.

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Florence Marchi, Sylvain Marliere, Jean Loup Florens, Annie Luciani and Joel Chevrier
TRANSACTIONS ON EDUTAINMENT IV, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2010, Volume 6250/2010, 157-175,
The work focuses on the description and evaluation of an augmented reality nanomanipulator, called “NanoLearner” platform used as educational tool in practical works of nanophysics. Through virtual reality associated to multisensory renderings, students are immersed in the nanoworld where they can interact in real time with a sample surface or an object, using their senses as hearing, seeing and touching. The role of each sensorial rendering in the understanding and control of the "approach-retract" interaction has been determined thanks to statistical studies obtained during the practical works. Finally, we present two extensions of the use of this innovative tool for investigating nano effects in living organisms and for allowing grand public to have access to a natural understanding of nanophenomena.

Nicolas Venant, Antoine Niguès, Florence Marchi, Michal Hrouzek, Fabio Comin, Joël Chevrier and Jean-Loup Florens
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2010, Volume 6191/2010, 35-42, 

This paper presents the design of a new tool for 3D manipulations at micro and nanoscale based on the coupling between a high performance haptic system (the ERGOS system) and two Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) probes mounted on quartz tuning fork resonators, acting as a nano tweezers. This unique combination provides new characteristics and possibilities for the localization and manipulation of (sub)micronic objects in 3 dimensions. The nano robot is controlled through a dual sensorial interface including 3D haptic and visual rendering, it is capable of performing a number of real-time tasks on different samples in order to analyse their dynamic effects when interacting with the AFM tips. The goal is then to be able to compare mechanical properties of different matters (stiffness of soft or hard matter) and to handle submicronic objects in 3 dimensions.

Eurohaptics proceedings, Part. I, pp 35-42, (2010)


in COGIS 2009 : COGnitive systems with Interactive Sensors

2 - Educational Tool for Nanophysics Using Multisensory Rendering

Eurohaptics Conference, 2005 and Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems, 2005. World Haptics 2005.  473 - 476  18-20 March 2005
Marchi, F. 
ACROE, ICA, Grenoble, France 
Urma, D. ; Marliere, S. ; Florens, J.L. ; Besancon, A. ; Chevrier, J. ; Luciani, A. 
Conference Publications

The presentation and the evaluation of an educational tool used to teach physical phenomena that take place at a nanometer scale are the central objectives of the work presented in this paper. Through concepts and tools, the real phenomena are connected to the virtual world, which furnish sensorial representations (haptic, visual, auditory) for the student who is experimenting.

A computer representation of the nanoscene at the atomic level offers a multisensory tangible artifact of nanoworld inaccessible entities. The parameters accessibility allows students to design by themselves and perceive various contact interactions, to understand the origins of complex phenomena as the approach-retract nano-palpating effect.

An interactive way for teaching and understanding the differences between the nanoscale physics and the macroscale physics is illustrated through an experience when students shake the Drosophilae leg.

Real nanomanipulations on various samples by means of the developed multisensorial platform confirm better results in student comprehension and dexterity for achieving the same item as with the classical tools.

1 - PRESENCE: the sense of believability of inaccessible worlds

A. Luciani, D. Urma, S. Marliere, J. Chevrier

Cyberworlds, 2003. Proceedings. 2003 International Conference on; 01/2004

With the development of communication methods and devices, it became possible to perform actions more and more distant from the task spaces. These new tools raise today the question of Presence of distant spaces with a growing accuracy. In a first part, we show that the distance between the manipulation space and the task space, in a teleoperation activity, points to different meanings. However, the same need for a strong Presence of the task space raises, whatever the distance between these spaces is. We then discuss the notion of Presence as a cross-point between technological and scientific disciplines, and propose some general idea that may reinforce it. In a second part, we illustrate the previous ideas with the example of manipulation of nano-objects. We show how it is possible to enhance dramatically the feeling of Presence of the nano-objects to be perceived and manipulated, by adding haptic bi-directional transducers to the visual and acoustical sensors used today. By the end, we defend the idea that the feeling of Being there is deeply dependent on multisensoriality.