Archive for the ‘final blog’ Category

Week 9 Nanotech_Michie Cao

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Seeing as how our class, as a whole, deals with the fusion of art and science, I think it is appropriate to end this quarter with the topic of nanotechnology, because this field is pretty much the epitome of art, science and technology.  Moreover, it is a field in which Professor Vesna is very involved and so, there is a lot of interesting and fun stuff that she can share with us.  I am particularly fascinated with her zero@wavefunction exhibit, where audience members were able to manipulate third carbon molecule projections on the wall with their shadows.  Still, I have no idea how that works, but the fact that something as intangible as one’s shadow can interact with projections on the wall is pretty darn cool. 


Honestly, I didn’t really know what “nanotechnology” was before this class. However, since Professor Vesna’s covers so much about this topic in her class, I finally felt inclined to search it up. Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale of size 100 nanometers or smaller.  I think it’s a fairly new field, so there is a lot of potential for growth.  Not only that, it can be utilized in diverse and flexible ways from conventional devices, such as curling irons, to high-tech gadgets to medicine.

Regents Professor Zhong Lin Wang and other nanotechnology researchers from Georgia Tech recently developed a “power shirt” with the ability to generate electricity from the wearer’s physical movement and use that energy to charge small electronic devices, like a cell phone.   What makes this possible is a microfiber nanogenerator that is composed of two fibers.  When those two fibers rub together, it can generate a small electrical current that would be harvested for energy.  This microfiber nanogenerator would potentially be woven into garments or even curtains or tents, where the energy could come from wind motion.  . Combining current flow from many fiber pairs woven into a shirt or jacket could allow the wearer’s body movement to power a range of portable electronic devices. The fibers could also be woven into curtains, tents or other structures to capture energy from wind motion.

Another invention made possible by nanotech is the Nokia handset that can detect diseases.  Developed by the Applied Nanodetectors Ltd., the cell phone contains a nanotech chip with sensors that can identify certain gases, such as CO2, nitric oxide and ammonia, that build up within the body depending on the condition.  Using the emitted breath of users, the nanochip detector would be able to determine if a person was suffering from, say, asthma and communicate that quickly through simple red and green symbols and texts.  If condition was marked positive, developers say, the handset would immediately notify the user’s doctor.    

Considering these inventions are still merely prototypes, I am pretty impressed. Nanotechnology not only allows for things to be made smaller and lighter, it allows for things to be more widely accessible to the general public. 

Read more about the cell phone breathalyzer:

Michie Cao


Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

This week we talked about nanotechnology and we had a guest lecture by Professor Gimzewski, but you already knew that. You also probably already know what Gimzewski spoke about, so I am just going to jump into what I found interesting about his presentation. The first thing that comes to mind is Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). While Gimzewski did not specifically mention MSDSs, he spoke about toxicity research - or lack there of - on nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are being integrated into consumer products despite the fact that little is known about the effect nanoparticles have on our health and on the environment. A few weeks ago, I went to a presentation by Dr. Jim Hutchison (Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Material Science Institute, University of Oregon) where he spoke about nano- and green nanotechnology. He too spoke about the lack of understanding surrounding the environmental and health related implications of nanoparticles. He mentioned that, of all the nanoparticles that have been created, none have been quantitatively analyzed for toxic properties and only one has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). According to Hutchison, the nanoparticle with an MSDS is carbon nanotubes and the information provided is laughable. For example, he said, the recommended protection, when handling carbon nanotubes, is a dust mask which would be of little or no use as nanoparticles are small enough to pass right through a dust mask. In the case of spilled carbon nanotubes, the MSDS suggests, sweeping them up with a broom, said Hutchison. It is disconcerting to hear that nanoparticles are being adopted in many products with no regard for the implications nanoparticles might have, especially when their adoption is being fueled, not necessarily or entirely by the properties they exhibit, but by the marketing buzz that surrounds products with nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are unlike any materials that have been used in the past, because they are engineered to exhibit specific material properties, which, unlike chemical properties, are permanent. Silver nanoparticles, which display anti-microbial properties now, will still exhibit the exact same anti-microbial properties in one, two, even three hundred years from now unless the nanoparticles are physically altered at some point. As I mentioned in my post about Hutchison’s presentation, silver nanoparticles are currently being used in consumer grade clothing. Hutchison’s research demonstrated that the majority of silver nanoparticles in clothing available to the public washes off in less than ten washes. All of the particles washed off these items of clothing make their way into public waterways and yet, we have no information regarding their toxicity.
I think nanotechnology is a fascinating field and has amazing potential, but care must be taken to make sure we don’t rush into an environmental disaster for the sake of having silver nanoparticle socks that keep our feet smelling fresh or nanoparticle sun tan lotion that whitens our teeth.

Enrico Mills

Week 9_Nanotechnology_Wei-Yi Lin

Monday, March 9th, 2009

On Thursday, Professor James Gimzewsk from the Chemistry department came by and gave us a brief lecture on nanotechnology; in particular, the fullerene and its affiliates. I am not surprised why professor Gimaewsk placed a greater emphasis on the fullerene instead of nanotechnology itself because it is a term inspired, as most engineers would claim defensively against chemists, by mechanical engineers and material scientists. However, it is still a laboratorial technique that has not yet matured and many of its applications, in either medical or engineering, are still in the phase of research and development. Having said that, the fullerene, also know as the “buckyball”, is a successful example to illustrate how molecules can be altered or designed by nanotechnology. This process has been prove, accepted, and credited by international community and has won its creator a Nobel Price in Chemistry. But why is nanotechnology important? Ok… so what’s the big deal to make things super tiny small when we have to pay so much extra as a result? Ultimately, it’s nanotechnology necessary?

We have been discussing nothing but the positive effects about how nanotechnology can help to improve medical treatment. We should also pay an equal attention to the increase in consequence brought by this technology. For instance, the exponential increase in the rate of diffusion of drug molecules into the bloodstream can adversely increase of risk of death due to drug poisoning. Moreover, nanotechnological products required extra handling since molecules of such content can easily diffuse into human body through the cell membrane on human skin. Also, molecules at this scale would easily react with the moist in the air and airborne. Certainly, I believe there are concerns about the technology especially in the medical field that are yet discussed.

In the engineering field, nanofabricatied materials have been successfully implemented with alloys and ceramics. One of them is the high-temperature superconductor. Because of low electric impedance, superconductor has a low emission of energy due to heat loss.

By Wei-Yi Lin

Week 9: Nanotechnology by Mitch Platter

Monday, March 9th, 2009

After reading a few articles about the field of nanotechnology, it seems to be a general consensus that most people are infatuated with the subject. The first explanation that I thought of was that naturally, ridiculously small objects astound people, because it is something they are entirely unfamiliar with. However, I quickly realized that this was not true. I attended the exhibit “Invisible Earthlings” last week, which reminded me that this idea is not always true. In the exhibit, the artist, Beatriz Da Costa, sought to address the problem of people ignoring microbes when they think about our environment. When people think about nature, they immediately think about large animals and plants, but they rarely consider the invisible microbes that play a huge role in our environment. So, the fact that nanotechnology deals with objects that are really small does not provide a just explanation to why people are so infatuated. So what is it?

In the article “The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science,” the two authors make reference to nanotechnology being a revolutionary field where new possibilities are endless. This seems like a more rational explanation to justify people’s interest. During the Cold War, people became obsessed about the Space Race, due in large part to the Cold War itself, but also because of the idea of venturing out into a new frontier. Scientists were exploring a world that had never been seen before, and this caught the attention of nearly everyone. Now that space has been thoroughly explored, with the discovery of and stars hundreds of light years away, it seems that the field of space has been thoroughly exhausted.  With the vast field of space explored, it seems that the only field that has not been discovered is what is not visible to the human eye.  The nanometer is as mysterious a concept as space was to the citizens of the 1960’s.

So yes, nanotechnology is an interesting new field that can possibly change the world as we know it. But what about the dangers of nanotechnology? With the development of almost all new technologies there have been negative effects to both the environment and the individual. The book, Nanotechnology and Society does an excellent job of addressing this concept. The authors state how recent problems with mercury, asbestos, and DDT have all arisen from the ill treatment of new technologies in their time. With nanotechnology being such an extraordinary new field, they rationalize that it could have tremendous negative effects if handled in the wrong way. However, they also mention that a scientific group known as the Quebec Commission de I ethique de la science et de la technologie (CEST) have already published a position regarding the ethical treatments of nanotechnology. The three chapters of the position deal with the scientific, legal, and ethical issues attributed to this new science, and they give appropriate warnings as to what needs to be done with the new field. It appears that nanotechnology is being well regulated, so we can only hope that it does not bring about the troubles that it is fully capable of doing.

Here is a link to the book Nanotechnology and Society:,M1

by Mitch Platter

Week9_Nanotechnology_By Heeseok Lee

Monday, March 9th, 2009

nanotechnology-kd-0011The lecture on Thursday, by Professor James Gimzewsk, makes me think of the importance of fusing art, science, and technology. These days, The fusion of art, science and technology leads to the creation of many small objects for the improvement of the human health, new electronics and seeking for better energy production. Many scientists have begun to work in the creation of small object by developing nanotechnology that controls matter at the atomic and molecular level. This control has allowed for human to innovate and create nano-particle that would improve the health of a patient with cancer. You may ask how an object smaller than a strand of hair can possibly improve the health of a patient that is suffering from cancer. The answer is simple. As US technology is growing at a fast rate, scientists have begun to work on a nano-particle that can diagnose cancer. These nano particles are more accurate and are much cheaper. Then they are also thinking in creating nano-shells can be linked to anti body, which would recognizes cancer cells and be taken in by the tumor. Then the particle would release some type of inferred light into the tumor cell getting rid of the tumor, without harming other human cells around it.nanoparticles_ani
After searching on the google, I found that nanotechnology, especially, the use of molecular tools designed to combat the disease, is expected to give a breakthrough in medical aspect. According to the National Cancer Institute’s announcement, two waves of funding for nanotech training and research, and it sees nanotechnology as vital to its goal of “eliminating suffering and death from cancer by 2015.”
The first generation of cancer nanotech applications will most likely concern detection. Nano-particles could recognize a cancer’s molecular signatures, or adhere to hidden cancerous cells, making them visible to an MRI or fluorescent light. Eventually, nano-particles could be made which not only find those cells, but also destroy them.
It is difficult to guess how soon cancer nanotechnologies will be available. It is really exciting to hear that nanotechnology could give the solution to curing cancer someday. However, still revealed fact on safety is very early stage.Nanotechnology makes contribution not only to a medical field but also many advance electronics and the production of energy, which might help us to be independent from oil fear. Researches such as seeking a better model of a solar panel to trap solar energy will resolve our energy fear. As the oil is running out and every years we are facing increase of oil price, nanotechnology seems to be one of promising solutions. However there are very few supporter of the use and the development of nanotechnology, those who are against it fear that it would bring great harm to the environment and creating various toxins harmful to humans. This isn’t true for many scientist are seeking ways of creating nanotechnology that is helpful to US humans and also considering if the creation will arise to have any harmful affect on humans. It reminds me of the lecture “greener nanotechnology” given by Jim Hutchinson. He focused on how scientist are trying to make balance on environmental safety and technological improve. I believe that nanotechnology is the key term in this century, but we are not familiar with how it will affect our environment and have no sufficient regulation for the safety, because it is in the early stage. Both scientists and beneficiary of nanotechnology should take consideration how they are going to make balance on improvement of technology and well being of human and nature.

Here is a video demonstrating how nanotechnology can treat cancer

Week9/Final Blog_ A spin on the future

Monday, March 9th, 2009

This week we immersed ourselves in nanotechnology, and what is so fascinating about nanotechnology is that it, more than any other field we have studied, is responsible for the creation of some of the craziest gadgets you can find. A quick little internet search is example enough –

This article might change the way you think about fashion (I know it changed my perspective a little bit). Through the advent of nanotechnology, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are looking into a shirt that could possibly recharge all of our other nanotech devices (cell phones, cameras, etc.) by capturing our movement. Kinetic energy harvesting could be a super-cheap and eco-friendly way of powering all of our electronics. As the article says though, we may have to reinvent the washing machine. Nanotech fibers that are woven into fabric can’t get wet!

Nanotech seems to cross into many other fields that we have discussed as well. One such gadget developed earlier this year at Penn State could serve a very important role in the diagnosis of several life-threatening diseases. Again this gadget employs what are called nanowires, basically fiber sensors and they are coated with DNA sequences that match those of hepatitis, HIV, or others. The article can be found HERE and the depth of the technology is truly amazing. They are currently working on a prototype, and perhaps we will see a breathrough in diagnostics very soon.

The applications of nanotechnology are, literally, endless. When I try to think about the breadth of the definition which is “The science and technology of building devices, such as electronic circuits, from single atoms and molecules.” (, nanotechnology will be constituting the future. The most promising sort of nanotechnology is certainly any type of bottom-up research. Instead of trying to create smaller and smaller devices, we will arrange extremely small (as in nanometers small) pieces to create a very complex and technologically advanced device/system.

Obviously I have been focused on mostly scientific applications, but I can imagine there are also some relevant uses in the artistic realm. In fact, there have been international art competitions launched where the methods or subject of the art must be nanotechnology. Fascinating.

Since we have just wrapped up the class and turned in our final projects, it is interesting for me to look back and see how much we have learned and how it all culminates into our final pieces of work. My amor-propre final was an ode to the vanity of society. That seems pretty north-campus for an engineering major, no? But when taking a deeper look, the topic itself is brought to fruition by a highly technical tunnel optics system. It involves our consciousness of self and how we feel others perceive us, it touches on perception as people can watch from the outside. Nanotech certainly comes into play with the technological utilities of the system, and there are so many other similarities consistent with the course that perhaps I didn’t even think of.

-Lindsey Dawson

Nanotechnology and Society_ Junki Chae

Sunday, March 8th, 2009


Our guest lecturer this week was Professor James Gimzewski of the department of chemistry and biochemistry. Gimzewski’s interests seemed to be positioned in the purpose of how natural world exhibited characteristics that are related to nanotechnology, investigating it, and trying to exploit nature to create non-natural technique s of well-organized nanotechnology utilization. One of the examples that he gave utilize was a individual blue butterfly whose wings were actually grey but the arrangement or the wing altered the reflection of the lightwaves to make it occur blue. The surface of the wing had large numbers of nano-scale structure and the test of this structure was Gimzewski’s main concern in the substance. Through some surfing, I came across the nanotechnology now website that holds information on realistically every nanotechnology part of new and the history of that area.


As always, people are always trying to find the next best thing that will earn a profit, and it seems that today, this thing is nanotechnology. Whiling I search about nanotech, I found some of  lists of consumer products that uses of nanotech. It was interesting to see how many different applications this science could be useful for, but as I continued to search other pages of products, the more absurd they seemed to me. True, some of the products were legitimate, and I know that nanotechnology applied to other fields such as place examination and research have exciting implications, but a great deal of them seemed useless. I felt like much of them were simply the result of businesses taking advantage of the nanotechnology craze in order to prey on consumer enthusiasm and desire to be a part of the ‘high tech in-crowd’.


Another matter that crossed my mind was the possible for an over reliance on technology whose dependability cannot be fulfilled by the definite technology. For example, on the previously mentioned nanotech consumer products list was a computer mouse that has a “Nano coating containing antimicrobial properties built in to protect the product from bacteria surviving on its surface”. Although in theory this might be effective, but is it actually effective? If the technology is not effective, it may create untrue sense of safety for its users, causing them to messily ignore the logical safety precautions such as washing their hands. This may be a make bigger to say this, but thinking past tendency in society’s response to increasingly better technology such as the not completely true idea that hand-sanitizer can serve as a universal protector from common germs, I could see this as a potential result.


However, Nanotechnology is certainly a powerful tool for human race in the future. Although nanotechnology is still in its early stages of growth, it holds great assurances and is well promoted in medicine. However, since only “feeling is believes” principal be relevant to nanoscience and nanotechnology, visualization art is vital for people, especially the non-science, to clutch the work of nano-scientists. However, we don’t know if nano-materials might make happen any damaged effect to us in the future.


Junki Chae




Week_9 Nanotechnology By Gaurav Bansal

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Nanotechnology is a very large and important field, contrary to its name. Nanotechnology will provide new possibilities for the future that were once unimaginable. One of the ideas using nanotech that interests me the most is the concept of the Space Elevator.

Space Elevator

Space Elevator

The space elevator is an idea in which a very long cable will be placed from Earth to geosynchronous orbit. After this cable is in place, a “cable rider” will act like an elevator and carry satellites into space. This offers an alternate solution to place satellites in space as opposed to using a giant rocket which has a higher chance of failure. So how can nanotechnology, which deals with very small things, possibly help carry 15,000 pound objects thousands of miles away from the Earth’s surface? The answer is that nanotubes will be used to construct the long cable due to its strength and weight properties.

Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon Nanotubes

Our guest speaker James Gimzewski briefly touched on the topic, and describes how the carbon nanotubes are made.
The speaker seemed to have a string stance on the topic toxicology of nanotechnology. Due the size of nanomaterials, the inherent properties are not the same as the large scale object we understand today. This is so because at such a small scale, trivial amounts of any materials will have a large affect. It seems that most of the issues that people are concerned with are airborne side effects to people’s lungs. The carbon nanotubes that want to be used for the space elevator is speculated to cause mesothelioma. Since this potentially can cause harm, or death, the humans, great caution will be taken before nanomaterials become main stream. However Gimzewski suggests that companies will continue to use nanomaterials, without explicitly saying so, until they are banned.

Nanotechnology is also being utilized in the field of computing. Ever since the first computer was made, which was the size of a large room; it has been a race to produce the smallest possible computer. Nanocomputing is highly desired in the field of computing because of speed. In today’s society, the fast you can go, the better. Gimzewski thinks that we are designing into a wall, and we will reach a point at which we can’t go any smaller or faster with the current method. I agree with him fully, it is easy to see a trend in every field that today’s technology just follow what was originally done when the field was new. Sometimes it is better to hit the reset button, use the knowledge learned, and come up with a new idea for a given problems.

This is in response to Gimzewski question: If you could make any object, what would it be?

If I had the capability to make any object, I would make an object that had the capability to go faster than the speed of light. I understand the today’s society believes it is not possible to surpass the speed of light, but I disagree with this. The equations that make it such that we cannot exceed the speed of light were manmade, just because they have not been proven wrong, doesn’t mean they are right.

By Gaurav Bansal

Week 9: Nanotechnology and Society by Simon Wiscombe

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

While Professor Gimzewski’s lecture was very informative. I was one of those many people who, though I had heard of nanotechnology and was aware that it dealt with the development of particles on the 10^(-9) scale (despite, may I had, having no true cognition of exactly how small this is), I had no actual idea what advancements have been made in recent years. It was enlightening to hear about the development of “bottom up” technology, mimicking the development of natural systems, as well as the fields in which nanotechnology is drastically enhancing at this very moment. I’d like to break up this blog post into two main areas, the first dealing with nanotechnology and society, while the second addresses the first cooperation with artists.

Social outlooks for these new technologies that are much more, shall we say, private, are always grim. For some reason, there is always very hesitant behaviour on the part of the general public in accepting these technologies. It happened for biotech, and it’s relieving to hear Professor Gimzewski warn us that taking the same approach to nanotech as was taken for biotech could lead to its ruin. The professor already elaborated and mentioned many products that already contain nanoparticles without the public’s knowledge. In fact, they’re entering the market at an alarming rate, up to three to four a week [link]., most of them in health, fitness, and, as the professor mentioned, related cosmetics [link].

These products contain nanoparticles.

These products contain nanoparticles.

The Professor warns that companies shouldn’t attempt to hide the fact that they’re using nanoparticles, but rather that they should inform the public upfront. I would take it one step further. In my research for my final product, I found that a third of the general public is completely against biotechnology and genetically modified foods, but this was mostly due to their ignorance of the field [1]. If we start public awareness programs about nanotechnology, despite its complex nature, I believe we can avoid the societal fear that may backlash against the scientific community.

Professor Gimzewski, although he may not realize it, is taking the steps in the right direction by contacting artists. The Professor lists his reason to include artists as an imaginative one. The limits of nanoscience aren’t understood at all, and he believes that artists, being able to see things from a new perspective, will be able to find novel application for these technologies. While I agree with the Professor whole-heartedly (his closing comments were so poetic and insightful that they could have been the closing comments on Inside the Actor’s Studio), I also believe that his connection with artists will help communicate the wonders of nanotechnology to a society that might otherwise fear it.

If scientists contact artists, inform them of the current technologies available, and ask for their help, nanotechnology has already established a vital link in understanding. There is no reason why a well-informed artist wouldn’t be able to interpret the technical jargon spoken by the scientists and, in turn, communicating this to the public at large through their artwork, whether it be fine art or literary art. And who knows? Maybe the artists will teach the scientists how to create as they do, bridging the gap between the rift in the two cultures.

- Simon Wiscombe

Week 9 - Nanotechnology and Society - By Arthur To

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Nanotechnology is the study of matter on a molecular and atomic scale. This is a rather new field of scientific interest along with genetics. From what I’ve understood, nanotech is still at its infant stage and still has a far ways to go, but the possibilities seem endless. Genetics, too, although much more established than nanotech has gone a long way. Not only has it been able to triumph scientifically, it has also had to triumph politically as well. Genetics’ idea of cloning and stem cell research was and still is a touchy subject; many had fears of abuse of either cloning or stem cell research. It was as much as a scientific interest as it was a moral crisis. People questioned the ethics of playing God’s role in creation of living organisms. As for stem cell research, that was even a more sensitive subject matter. The idea of using fetal subjects in order to advance science and help the currently living was seen as very offensive to many, especially religious pro-life activists. In the end, although some laws have slowed down the advances of genetics, it has not stopped it. It seems like the hot discussion is starting to shift from genetics to nanotechnology now. It seems that it takes a few studies and several years to calm down society.


Nanotechnology fits the technological model of advancement through trying to make things as small and compact as possible. Computers use to be the enormous just so they can make some simple calculations. Now they can be very compact personal laptops that anyone can carry from place to place. Nanotechnology is not only new to the public eye, but it is still new to scientist as well. Many of nanotechnology side effects are still not fully understood and there has yet to be a consistent and fully credible report on environmental effects of nanotechnology. This uncertainty, similar to genetics and cloning, has created many skeptics, some going further than others. To be honest, although I do believe that skepticism is very important to the well-being of society, there is a clear difference between skepticism and paranoia. Skepticism puts things under scrutiny to the test, puts a form of check and balance to them. Paranoia on the other hand is usually oversimplified and exaggerated and is more of an annoying road bump to progress.


Although this was a while back, I went to the CNSI seminar featuring Jim Hutchinson. There goals are to end the uncertainty and fear of nanotechnology by taking a more environmental friendly approach to nanotechnology. There work is called greener nanotechnology and they strive to use less toxic compounds to produce their experiments and research. I found this to be a very innovative way to deal with the uncertainty issue. Sadly though, even Hutchinson runs into some people who still think he is up to no good. There are too many times where congressmen act irrationally without any convincing evidence to put unnecessary regulations to scientific studies. I think it is best to leave most of the decision making to the scientist that know best of their subject with minimal regulations.


By Arthur To