Week 9 Nanotech_Michie Cao

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:  http://www.techchee.com/2009/02/22/nano-breath-cell-phone-checks-bad-breath-for-diseases/

Michie Cao

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