Archive for the ‘final blog’ Category

Week 9 Post on Nanotechnology by Natalie Ridling

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

            Nanotechnology is not something that is new to me in any way.  I have been involved in learning about the up and coming field since the start of high school.  In an earlier post I mentioned this, but I also had an internship working in a nanoscience lab during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school.  The new research they are conducting is absolutely mind-boggling and it is fascinating to learn about different aspects of what is being discovered.  Part of what is really cool, is that if we had another guest speaker come in and focus on a different aspect of the science, we would get a completely different story about what is being done.  Each person contributes something completely different and each is very unique in his or her approach to the field.  My research was in a biology lab and I focused on C. elegans, aka little worms that carry a similar genome to humans.  Some of the people in the lab were working on cancer medications and the clues into cancer solving possibilities.  I will talk more about this below.  My work was focused on identifying single genes and their importance in the survival of the worms through cell death and tumorigenesis.  Here is the link to the Rothman Lab at UCSB where I worked:  When I worked there I spent my days looking into a Petri dish with different wells in it and I moved the worms from one well to the next, but remember that each worm is about 1 mm long when gown and I would usually move them when they were much “younger” than that.  I would look into a dish with hundreds of small worms in it sometimes.  It was always a challenge to “pick” these up with the little tools.  This is a more outer ring type of nanotechnology project, but it was so interesting to be involved in fresh research. 

This is what the C. elegans look like in a zoomed out view through a microscope.  The circle is the bacteria that they feed on, and in the lab, each bacteria knocks out a different gene.

This is what the C. elegans look like in a zoomed out view through a microscope. The circle is the bacteria that they feed on, and in the lab, each bacteria knocks out a different gene.

This is what each worm looks like, and what each consists of.

This is what each worm looks like, and what each consists of.

            I thought that the guest lecture that we had on Thursday was very interesting.  There were so many up and coming projects that he covered and it was all fascinating.  The part most interesting to me was that on cancer cures and research.  I know a lot of people who have had cancer, and many have been close family members.  I have seen the affects of chemotherapy on a daily basis, and it really is such a hard battle to fight all of the side effects of the chemo, let alone the cancer itself.  To discover a treatment that really would utilize nanotechnology to the fullest and attack the cancer cells more directly would be a miracle.  This would change so many lives for the better and so many people could live their lives that much more completely and with less treatment.  Here is a link to a site that covers many different aspects of medical nanotechnology:    


Natalie Ridling

Week 9 Blog Nanotechnology All Over By John Philip Bongco

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

The Beauty of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology or the control of technology on an atomic and molecular scale has actually hit the big screen (in a sense). Have you watched the movie Watchmen yet? I just thought it would be interesting to mention nanotechnology in the media before discussing some more important topics under nanotechnology. Watchmen involves a world struggling to reach peace in the face of nuclear war. One of the characters named Doctor Manhattan has the ability to manipulate atoms even to limits as great as obliterating another human being. The character gained his supernatural abilities after he was caught in a laboratory accident. As a scientist, Doctor Manhattan continued to tamper with atoms and creating nanotechnology machines even after his accident for the good of mankind.


Moving on, nanotechnology, more importantly is about making technology as minuscule in size as possible. A nanometer is one one billionth of a meter. Some compare a nanometer is about one-hundred thousand times thinner that a strand of hair. For example: The picture below shows a picture of a surgery being performed with the use of nanotechnology. Scientists, hope that advancements in technology will help surgeons reach the most difficult and narrow places of the body to perform surgeries, inner-body checkups, cure sickness, etc. Imagine what effects nanotechnology might yield when used properly in brain surgery. Of course, safety measures have to be taken before such newer nanotechnology can be used. Some, however, are using nanotechnology for things completely unrelated to health care. For example: in class, the guest lecture showed us a picture of President Barrack Obama faces made from a technique known as nanolithography. The faces are constructed entirely of carbon nanotubes (150 million nanotubes). Some argue that this is a waste of time. Why waste hard work and energy on an “art project”? Well, some researchers are working hard to figure out how they can make these nanotechnology items grow. The carbon nanotube material is extremely strong and sturdy. The faces have playfully been named nanobamas. The following YouTube further expands on these ideas and also reiterates the potential of nanotechnology in green energy technology, medicine and health care: It can improve solar cells and battery power. There is even research being done in figuring out how nanotechnology can be used to fight lead poisoning.


The picture below sort of plays with the funny and seemingly unrealistic  idea of compacting a solar system into a minuscule hand-held item of sorts. Some predict that nanotechnology can create smaller and faster computer chips, tiny medical devices that can repair clogged arteries and new and improved water filters. According to this youtube video: nanotechnology has been used for hundreds of years. Supposedly, nanotechnology is used in glass paintings that you see in history books and cathedrals. Scientists say that some of the most fascinating things they see on a nano scale come from nature’s “technology”. Nanotechnology even expands into studies for better forms of energy.  Scientists are attempting to imitate some of the ways energy is created in nature (in plants, etc.).


By John Philip Bongco

Week 9 Blog _ Nanoart _ Sarah Van Cleve

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Christian Orfescu is a material scientist who runs the analytical laboratory at Caleb Technology in Torrance, California. By day he researches nanotechnology looking for ways to create more efficient lithium batteries, yet in his time off the job he uses art to inform people about the new technologies of the Twenty-First Century. The inspiration for Cris Orfescu’s art comes from the molecular landscapes, measured on the nanometer scale, of various materials. He is so inspired by these images that he calls his work “nanoart” and in 2006 he started organizing competitions for artists with similar ideas.

These nanoart artists are confronted with quite a hurdle when trying to illustrate the realm of nanotechnology (defined as materials that have dimensions of one hundred nanometers or less). Because nanomaterials can be more than one hundred thousandth of the size of the head of a pin, these materials are impossible to photograph. The image below exemplifies the size of the smaller than microscopic nanomaterials, which the artists are trying to recreate. To get any sort of image of these tiny substances one must use scanning electron microscopes. Even with this technology the images can only be portrayed in the color gray. While some see this as a limitation, Cris Orfescu believes this allows the nanoart artists to let their creativity shape how we see science. Mr. Orfescu admits that his interpretations of nanotechnology are not works of science but he believes they can do a better job at attracting attention to the subject: “With more than 70 percent of the people in the U.S. using products incorporating nanotechnology, I want people to know about it and I hope my art stirs their curiosity to find out more.”


For an example of nanoart see the image below. In this work called “Black Eye NanoOctopus” the artist created a nanosculpture by hydrolyzing a tiny drop of a titanium organometallic compound and coating the structure with gold so that it could be best visualized with a scanning electron microscope. The gray colored electron scan was then painted and digitally manipulated before the final image was put on canvas.


Like Cris Orfescu most nanoartists have a strong passion for the field of nanotechnology itself, but they simply use “the other culture” of art to get through to the public. As put by another nanoart artist, Darcy Lewis, “Nanotechnology will dramatically reshape our lives, with amazing medical and economic benefits, however, we must strive to focus on its unimaginable positive benefits, and curtail the weapons and negative applications it can also be used for.” It’s clear that the development of the new science of nanotechnology will undoubtedly lead to great new technologies—nanoarts are simply trying to spread this message with an innovative mix of science and vision.

By: Sarah Van Cleve

Week 9_by Brittany Santoyo

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

The word “Nanotechnology” in itself is such an intimidating word and even as I type it into my Word Document, it comes up as a misspelled word that should be spelled as Nan Technology. This leads me to the conclusion that this field is exceptionally new, even further than the latest version of Microsoft. However, I believe that there are very astounding and seemingly implausible things that this fields is prospected to bring upon our society.

In a particular branch of Nanotechnology, there contains the realm of Nanomedicine (once again spelling is indicated as incorrect). “Nanomedicine refers to future developments in medicine that will be based on the ability to build nanorobots.” ( ) Researchers are currently in the process of enabling these nanorobots to renovate damaged or impaired cells, therefore, replicating the exertion much like that of the antibodies (a protein that is produced naturally by the body and works with the immune system to fight off infection) perform. Additionally, there is research underway to treat Parkinson’s Disease and cancer by producing nanomaterials that will be effectively used as synthetic tissue in order to replace such organs as the kidneys or the lungs that have been destructed by the spread of each disease. Specifically, there is a certain doctor my the name of Dr. Samuel I. Stupp from Northwestern University who has been attempting to uncover the intricate procedure of cell regeneration. Stupp has come upon much success and is now able to use Nanotechnology to jump start the regeneration process in clinical studies.

Another branch of this convoluted topic of Nanotechnology is the application of it in Space. A couple weeks ago in class, the issue of the “Elevator Leading Into Space” and its implausibility was brought up. Well optimistically, with the furthering in the field of Nanotechnology, this discovery will before long be possible. This is because there are constantly being developments made in order to make cables and solar sails increasingly more lightweight so that even though there exists a desertion of gravity, the elevator will be able to hold in space. These encroachments will, in turn, condense the quantity of fuel needed to enable a rocket to hold in space, allowing it to be able to orbit and travel in space.


An additional branch of the topic at hand would be Nanoelectronics which be, one day, be able to significantly reduce our world’s dependency to electrical power consumption. Consequently, this will boost our nation’s economy so that possibly, someday, the majority of the people will not be struggling to make ends meet or to pay the rent.

All of this is possible because of the astounding upcoming field of Nanotechnology. However, this road will not be a economical or low-rate one, but will be estimated to cost the average person millions of dollars. Obviously looking around at our nation and at our economical recession that we are currently engulfed in, about ninety eight percent of our society will not even be able afford such a opulence. Instead, the majority of the people will have to settle with an unpretentious television to watch the wealthy indulge in all of the glamour of traveling to a world so foreign that only few have been able to experience firsthand. Also, t is evident that Nanotechnology, through Nan electronics, is able to aid our nation in its economical predicament, but it will hold no chance up to the possibility of space travel. Nanotechnology has the authority to even further destroy a bent nation, but will we consent it to? I hope not, but it is very probable, considering the radical mindsets of people in the world today.

By Brittany Santoyo

Desma 9 – Nanotechnology by Michelle Wong

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Before lecture I had a slight hunch of nanotechnology is, but after the Nanobama talk it was a lot clearer. I thought it was really interesting that Buckminsterfullerene and the carbon nanotubes were made of purely carbons. The structure of Buckminsterfullerene, otherwise known as the Bucky Ball abacus, is unique that it’s organic and can carry molecules inside of the abacus. Prior to the lecture, I didn’t know that different colors can be extracted from the color black at the nano state. I think this is very important because the colors in cosmetics are not natural and it contains carcinogens. This is extremely useful because manufactures are using too much artificial colors, for example, food dyes, hair dyes, and fabric dyes.

I did a simple google search for the word “nanotechnology” and I got numerous results relating it to medicine. Nanotechnology is used in cancer treatments because it allows researchers to interact and study the cancerous and normal cell in real time. It is also used during chemotherapy. The use of nanotechnology can be more accurate in pinpointing cancerous cells and deliver the drugs only to cancerous cells – sparing the healthy cells. I didn’t realize how small the nanoparticles were until I saw this youtube video: . I find it absolutely amazing how researchers can engineer something smaller than cells because I’ve been taught that the small building block of life is a cell. Attacking cancerous cells from the genetic level is amazing because that is the underlying problems of cancer. nano_shower

During my research for my final project, I came across a virtual reality site. In virtual reality, nanotechnology is used to create a glove that is worn the participants. During the simulation, the gloves will give off force feedback and the sensation of touch. Because nanoparticles are so tiny, virtual reality is used to examine and touch the nanoparticles and to give the researchers a better sense of it is. After the lectures and my own independent research, I learned that nanoparticles are all around us and we never really used it. Now scientists are using nanotech to create plastic solar cells in place of the expensive silicon. One of the advantages in nanotech is that the scientists can control every step of the polymerization of the molecules. Although there are many positive sides to nanotechnology, there are also some concerns. Further research is needed to determine whether it is safe for our health 100%. Scientists are still unsure what would happen if certain scientifically engineered new nanotech molecules interacted with our natural cells. Despite possible consequences, nanotechnology is the solution to sustainable health and solar problems.

Another topic that found very interesting is the way how IBM was able to move atoms by atoms by the oscillating forces from a tuning fork. This reminds me of movie screening from the sound and science symposium. I attended the movie screening where vibration was used to create waves and art. I think the similar concept should be applied to the art of moving atoms. The way how engineers move the atoms and create what they want will be beneficial to our planet because we can create what we are in deficit. Maybe someday we can alter the conformation of graphite and create diamonds!


by Michelle Wong

Week 9 - Nanotechnology in Fashion and Cosmetics - Miki Koga

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

As a girl studying the sciences I look for ways that science can be applied to my other interests, like fashion. Lucky for me, nanotechnology has entered the fashion world. Fabrics coated with nanotech-engineered molecules have been labeled the textile of the future. We all love our staple cotton, silk, and wool shirts and sweaters, but synthetic fabrics add to our design options and moreover, improve performance. By synthetic fibers, I am not referring to the polyester of 70’s disco wear, but to the smaller, softer fibers of today’s textile technology. These high-tech microfibers enhance performance as far as durability and more wears between washings. We can say goodbye to wrinkles and stains with nanotech-enhanced clothing. This is simply the beginning to applications of the technology on the horizon.

Nanotech Fashion

Nanotech Fashion

Nanotechnology on the Catwalk

Nanotechnology on the Catwalk

Fashion may be considered frivolous and transient, especially in such an economically dire time. However, we have something revolutionary in our hands. Take for example, the fashion designers and fiber scientists at Cornell University who created a silver-infused, cotton dress that prevents colds and flu. The antibacterial silver particles resist soiling so the garment need not be washed. Using electrostatically charged nanoparticles that protectively coat fibers, the team even designed a garment that destroys hazardous gases and shields smog and air pollution. What I find interesting is how the garments’ colors do not come from dyes, but from reflections of manipulating particle size or arrangement. Besides making a fashion statement, such clothing can help us as it gives an entirely new meaning to functionality.



Science in the cosmetic industry is apparently nothing knew. On Thursday’s lecture Professor Gimzewski himself repeatedly mentioned how L’Oreal is a leader in using nanotechnology to continuously improve their products. While many of their consumers seldom inquire about the technology behind the products, L’Oreal apparently invests in much scientific research. They devote “3 percent of its annual sales to research, making the cosmetic group one of the most prolific patentees in the world”. In fact, the company’s nanocapsules have been in their market since 1995, which is long before the ‘nano’ prefix became popularized in other fields. The company works with labs belonging to France’s National Center for Scientific Research and has long developed a tiny polymeric shell that can guide active ingredients to specific places in the skin. These nanocapsules seep into the deeper layers of the skin, improving anti-aging and other beauty properties.

Nanotechnology really is all around us and is improving many aspects of our lives. I find it very exciting that it is establishing a prominent role in both the fashion and cosmetic industry. Making a career out of nano-textile research would be amazing. I believe in combining my interests and talents to invest in something I love, and this brilliant collaboration is making that possible.

For more information, check out these articles:

By: Miki Koga

Week 9_Nanotechnology: Addressing Discoveries and Danger by Madeline Schwarz

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Nanotechnology, as discussed by Professor Vesna as well as Particle Group guest speaker Professor James Gimzewski, is quite possibly the future of science and technology, from biomedicine to the chemistry of popular products. Both Tuesday and Thursday’s lectures gave me a comprehensive background in the history of imagining and achieving advancements in nanotechnology, and also got into its numerous applications, most of which I would have never even considered. As Professor Vesna humorously pointed out, the extent of many people’s knowledge of nanotechnology is familiarity with the iPod nano, and after learning more about the field, I think that the entire public should be fully informed about these technologies that could affect economic markets, healthcare, and industrial products throughout the world. Because of the Art/Sci Center’s close ties with the California Nanosystems Institute, many of the extra credit opportunities and recommended presentations for DESMA 9 have dealt with nanotechnology, and it was helpful to be given a better understanding of this field in class this week.

Professors Vesna and Gimzewski discussed the beginnings of nanotechnology’s conception; in particular, focusing on Richard Feyman and Eric Drexler. While Feyman’s 1959 lecture “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” was credited with first proposing advancing science from a microscopic as opposed to a macroscopic level, Drexler’s Engines of Creation took a more mechanistic, engineering-related approach to envisioning the building of molecules. With Richard Smalley’s discovery of the Buckminsterfullerene carbon structure in 1985, nanotechnology in practice began to take off, since now, scientists could act as chemical architects, putting smaller particles inside “bucky balls” and thus building matter from the bottom up. 

Carbon nanotubes and buckyballs.

Carbon nanotubes and buckyballs.

Theoretically, this bottom up approach provides a means of expansion for technological progress, which, as Gimzewski expressed, may be nearing its limits in terms of top-down miniaturization and streamlining. Gimzewski showed several graphs projecting the evolution of human technology, comparing it to human brain power, advances in transportation, and artificial intelligence. I believe the purpose of this was to illustrate the danger in extrapolating infinite growth from a current pattern of development, and to propose the thought that we might be approaching our limits in decreasing the complexity of computerized systems. Therefore, nanotechnological advancements may be necessary as a new way of expanding our technological capacity.

The art of constructing and positioning atoms into new structures, whether through trapping atoms inside fullerenes or manipulating carbon nanotubes, presents several exciting new opportunities for medical use. Professor Gimzewski touched on the K@C60 molecule, and how although it has harmful abilities, it is often necessary to utilize in the treatments of certain neurological diseases. However, other nanoparticles eliminate the harm in other biological techniques, such as in gene insertion - using dendrimers instead of other methods could eliminate an adverse immune system reaction. This article explains the concept of dendrimers quite well.

The formation of dendrimers, an alternative type of nanoparticle.

The formation of dendrimers, an alternative type of nanoparticle.

Among its many potential benefits, biomedical therapies based in nanotechnology could be the pathway we need in discovering the cure for cancer ( However, could nanotechnological products be more harmful than helpful, as Nina Waisman’s installation Particles of Interest implied? Gimzewski mentioned that about 1,000 products currently on the market involve nanotechnology, but that 2% haven’t been tested for their toxological effects. A myriad of products currently available and in development, from fuel cells, to sunscreen, to makeup, include nanoparticles which may be revolutionary and effective in their intended function, but may have additional unanticipated repercussions on the body and environment. 

Throughout this course, we have examined a variety of novel technologies and scientific developments which have both exciting new prospects and dangerous and/or controversial implications. Nanotechnology is a prime example to consider in the advancement of both science and art: though we may be eager to push our boundaries and propose novel approaches to society’s struggles, we may be nearing a point at which such proposals may cause more disruption than development, forcing us to compromise technological innovation for human safety.

- Madeline Schwarz

W9: Nano Toxicology by Stephanie Mercier

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

This week we talked about nanotechnology. Professor Vesna talked about buckminsterfullerenes aka bucky balls and other nano particles. But even though she talked for a long time about them, I’m still very unclear about what they are and what they do. All I really know about them now is that they were named after Richard Buckminster Fuller, they’re made out of carbon, and they’re shaped like a crazy geometric sphere.

It seems that the internet is not a big help either in understanding what bucky balls actually are and do, but I did find a cool video:

Anyway, all I know now is the exact dimensions (60 vertices and 32 faces) which helped me understand why they’re also called C60. The same goes for nanoparticles. All I know now is that they’re really small (which I knew before), that they’re in many products, and they’re possibly toxic. Clear sunscreen, stain resistant khakis, and high performance tennis balls among a plethora of other products, contain nanoparticles. Often these products do not mention that they contain nanoparticles on their packages. If products do have “nano” on their packages it’s often not a reference to nanotechnology, but a reference to the small size of the product, such as the ipod nano.

ipod nano

ipod nano

Although, many companies are taking advantage of nanotechnology, these nanoparticles may prove to be toxic. As the Guest Lecturer for this week, James Gimzewski, pointed out, carbon nano tubes are already on the FDA’s list of possible toxic substances. On the list of possible toxic substances because researchers just don’t know if they’re toxic or not since there have been only few toxilogical studies on nanoparticles. reports that some groups have suggested that nanoparticles be taken off the market until further studies have been conducted. I agree that nanoparticles should be taken off the market especially in cosmetics and food until further studies have been conducted. Many cosmetics contain nanoparticles, especially those that are advertised as long lasting. As Gimzewski stated, cosmetics have no approval system or testing. As long as the materials used in the products are not on the list of toxic substances, cosmetic companies are allowed to use nanoparticles. This is unfortunate, since sunscreens in Australia containing similar nanoparticles have already proved to be potentially skin damaging. Still others have concerns that like some microparticles, nanoparticles could be potentially lead to breathing problems in animals. This is why I would like to have nanoparticles banned from certain products like cosmetics and food. Unfortunately it seems very unlikely that any ban be enacted since there is so little research being done of the subject and there is a high demand for these nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are being used to make lipsticks longer lasting, to prevent stains on clothes, to make sunscreen clear, to make batteries last longer, amongst other applications. Nanotechnology is a booming industry. Everyone wants to use a little to make their products last longer, smaller, and stronger, but unfortunately we still don’t know the dangers and consequences of these tiny particles.

-Stephanie Mercier