Archive for the ‘week_9 nanotech’ Category

Nanotech art: the medium modifies the message (Kenneth Hurst)

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Digital photo frames are becoming ever more popular, better, and cheaper — and for good reason. They’re great for displaying special photos in an eye-catching and convenient way. And as they get better batteries, higher resolutions, better wireless connectivity, and easier remote management, they’ll become not just a conversation piece, but a staple of the high-tech home.

Now imagine what nanotech can do. Rather than an LCD that rotates images, you could have *actual* physical art rotating around.

Nanomanufacturing is the awesome science of — duh — manufacturing things at the nanotech level. Imagine scanning all the great masterworks of museum galleries around the world and being able to re-create them in astounding detail on a nanotech canvas. This canvas would be composed of ‘nano-pixels’, re-arrangable bits that can become any color or texture and recreate faithfully all of the observable detail of any great painting or sculpture.

Some people would certainly see this as de-valuing the original. If the plans for a Monet can be downloaded and essentially 100% recreated in billions of homes around the world at the same time, what’s the point of a museum? Or an original? As was brought up in the first sessions of the class, would there even be meaning to ‘original’? Digital works have already essentially destroyed the idea of an ‘original’ digital work. Nanomanufacturing has the ability to do this to physical art (or anything else physical).

Nanoart by Danya Linsteadt

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

When prompted to discuss nanotechnology, I think of the pictures I’ve seen of nano art, more specifically, pictures of a tiny stick figure constructed of Au atoms ( For this reason, I chose to do some research on nano art. What I found went far beyond a nano stick figure. I found a beautiful etching of a sun made of gold atoms in a silicon chip ( Then I found something I find even more fascinating, ferrofluid ( Ferrofluid is a substance comprised of iron particles, oil, and a soap like substance to keep the iron suspended in the oil. The iron particles are magnetic making the fluid respond to magnets. I found a video describing how the process works: Ferrofluid can be used to make some beautiful art including sculptures that move in response to music (,, I shared these videos with my friend and he was quite impressed. Ferrofluid is also used for more functional applications such as creating air tight seals on moving parts. I think Ferrofluid is a great example of science and technology being used in artistic applications.

Week #9: Nanotech by Jeff Poirier

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The introduction to nanotechnology in class was very interesting. I was most intrigued by the discussion of nanomaterials. Carbon nanotubes, which are essentially elemental carbon (graphite) bonded together, are highly versatile and promise amazing things as the technology advances. Currently, nanotube technology is utilized in medicine and electrical circuit fields (optics and electronics). However, the extremely strong nature of the nanotubes has provided for hypotheses that they could serve architectural purposes as well. The seemingly most outlandish of all these claims is that nanotubes are the key to the attainability of “space elevators.” In the tensional method hypothesized, carbon nanomaterials would provide the basis for the elevator’s structure. A space elevator would allow for objects to be thrust into orbit around the Earth without a rocket.

In addition to nanotubes, fullerenes fall into the category of nanomaterials. The most common of the fullerenes is buckminsterfullerene, often referred to as the Bucky Ball. Strikingly similar to the structure of a soccer ball, buckminsterfullerene is composed of 60 carbon atoms bonded in a spherical geometry. Fullerenes have been utilized in the field of medicine as carriers of antibiotics as a means to target bacteria and, in some cases, even cancer cells. They too have the potential to play a role in armor production because they are quite strong structures. Relatively recent studies into the properties of fullerenes and other nanomaterials show that, under some circumstances, such materials exhibit superconductivity of electricity.

Nanotechnology as it relates to nanomaterials is shrouded in controversy. The biological and medicinal gains of fullerenes and nanotubes are apparent, but toxicologists have expressed a fear that such molecules are actually pathogenic and should be cautioned against. Some studies have provided support for the hypothesis that nanotubes, when introduced to the body, can be toxic. However, the proposed toxicity of C60 buckminsterfullerene and other related molecules has been opposed as well.

The societal, historical, and scientific contexts that nanotechnology encompasses have inspired many artists to delve into the topic from a “right-brained” perspective. For example, our very own Victoria Vesna, often in collaboration with our guest James Gimzewski, has produced several installations and exhibitions concerning nanotechnology and nanomaterials. In her work “Inner Cell,” feature Bucky ball projections in an interactive and responsive environment. In this forum, the participants of the installation had the opportunity to learn and experience nanotech through the manipulation and visualization of their surroundings. In a similar style, the work “Nanomandala” allows for the interaction of individuals with their environment with an emphasis on nanotechnology. Clearly, the wonders, mysteries and controversies of nanotech have inspired an artistic inquiry into the future of the science.

Nanotechnology is an emerging field that influences medicine, industry, and imagination. The amazing potentials of nanomaterials evidenced by the advances of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes are exciting and frightening at the same time. The potential toxicity of nanomaterials that have already been put to use in biological settings is a manifestation of the fearful nature of this new technology. Such successes and fears have inspired the sciences and arts alike to emphasize the societal and humanitarian possibilities associated with nanotechnology.

Here is a sophisticated video about nanotech:

-Jeff Poirier

Week 9_Nanotechnology By Braxton Little

Monday, March 9th, 2009

For many, nanotechnology is a very hard concept to grasp. It took me at least an hour to grasp exactly what Thursday’s lecture was about, and the concept referred to as “nanotech.” Being on a research campus, where the California Institute of Nanoscience is located, it seems very necessary that we as students try to understand the basics of this up and coming concept. When I got a chance to sit down and think about it, my mind went in many different directions, contrasting to the boundless potential that nanotech has. This video did a pretty good job at explaining the basics of what nanotech consists of, and the reality of how small of particles it deals with.

Also, to understand a real life example of the potential of nanotech, this video about the concept of a phone that is created from these nano-size particles helps a lot.

Three things that I would like to talk about after gaining a general knowledge of the subject are: The potential for nanotech to make life easier, the negative affects that may arise from this new culture, and the connection it has to a “third culture” and the ever growing knowledge of this world.
Nanotechnology has the potential to change EVERYTHING. All products can be made smaller, more efficient, and just better overall. I remember when the first ipod came out, and everyone was amazed over the fact that so many songs could by stored on such a small device. That was then, nanotechnology is the future. The storage that is on an ipod is gigantic in terms of the storage capabilities of nanotech. It does not just have positive effects in terms of technology, but also in terms of making the world more energy efficient and safe. Products built using nanotech are must stronger, and can withstand more stress than products we use today. This can make cars, planes, anything that relies on durability more safe and efficient. Also, nanotech can make fuel cells and solar panels that are much more efficient, creating more energy from less material. As one can tell, there are no limits.

Something that isn’t talked as much about dealing with nanotech is the negative effects that it may have on society. The fact that nanotech deals with material on such a small scale, it could have the ability to make almost anything disguisable. In a society where there are many conflicting rules, that could pose a threat to the safety of the public, and countries as a whole. All types of weapons could be developed that would go undetected, until it is too late. This aspect of nanotechnology is very scary, and I strongly believe that more attention should be focused on this fact. Is it worth it in the end? Do we have any way to enforce restrictions on how far nanotech can be taken? Once nanotech is practiced all over the world, it may be too late if it gets in the wrong hands. Another point that I would like to bring about is the many jobs that may be lost due to nanotech. Only a few companies would have the money to create nanotech products. This would put many other companies out of business if they could create an affordable nanotech product. Although this time is very far away, it is still something that we should pay attention towards.
The last aspect of nanotech that I would like to talk about is its connection to the previous weeks of class. Nanotech blends artistic qualities and scientific qualities. From day one, we have been studying the connection of art and science, and the third culture that has developed. I believe that nanotech more than ever is an expression from the scientific and art world, that they are never going to stop progressing, and there will never be a time in which “art” and “science” has reached its potential. Artists implement nanotech in their artwork, an example is shown below. The picture is of small wires that are several billionths of a meter, the wires are grown into flower shapes from scientists changing the temperature and pressure in the experiment. This shows how nanotech appeals to the artists, and scientists.

Week 9: Everyday Nanotechnology. by selenni cisneros

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Before Desma9, I had heard about the subject of nanotechnology before. But, I had no idea whatsoever what nanotechnology was about. After viewing Professor Vesna’s presentation, it made me curious about what else nanotechnology had in common with MY life. I finally stumbled upon an article about nanotechnology and items that hit close to home, such as everyday household items. The article is titled ‘Much Ado About Nanotechnology.’ The article begins by saying that nanotechnology is in manufacturing, food production and health care items. You may wonder exactly HOW nanotechnology is worked into these products. Well, objects as tiny as a few dozen atoms can be changed in shape and size as well as function, and the products mentioned have been changed in this way. The article focuses on how nanotechnology has worked into commerce and manufacturing and the government has not assessed the risks that come along with nanotechnology. According to the article, the fact that the government has not done as much as it can, is because this type of technology is so new. A huge problem is that manufacturers have begun to use nanotechnology quietly, using it in many consumer products, in everyday items as well, such as medicines, cosmetics, and food even! But, there has been effort to pass laws in order to regulate and understand and address the “environmental safety and health risks posed by engineered nanomaterials.” Soon, if not already, Canada will become the first nation to enforce companies to make lists of the engineered nanomaterials that they themselves use. Something like this would be amazing and is definitely needed in the United States. J. Clarence Davis says in the article of technology, including nanotechnology, that it is often a treasure chest of riches as well as Pandora’s box of evils. The article also states that although nanotech is small, it can have large complications. Nanotechnology is “extremely complex.”  From a list of 800 products that use nanotech, about 100 products are for direct application on our bodies. While some of these products, for example a hair treatment infused with nanoscale gold particles that attach to hair shafts, are completely unharming to the human body. But, there are concerns for other products, such as products stating that they “encapsulate ‘therapeutic’ agents within nanoscale capsules designed to survive skin penetration…” Nanotechnology is even used in products intended for direct digestion. If this product were to be unhealthy or have any sort of reaction, the person would be digesting it and putting it straight into their body. Even dietary supplements use nanotechnology are not checked as well as they should be from the FDA. Nanotechnology is used in sunscreens as well. There has been a study showing that certain sunscreens, such as from L’Oreal, are completely harmless when applied to normal skin on a human being. But, another study shows that if the human being had unhealthy and UV damaged skin, there is chance that they would obtain an unhealthy reaction. The bad thing is, that the makers of the products are not required to inform the buyers that they use nanotechnology in their products. So, at the moment, you yourself could be using nanotechnology-modified products. Although nanotechnology is a great, modern, new, and marvelous technology that is changing the world, it wouldn’t hurt anyone, in fact it could benefit everyone, if the products were regulated with more caution.

by selenni cisneros

Week 9 - Nanotechnology by Jane Chen

Monday, March 9th, 2009

America, as it often seems, is known as the Land of Plenty.  From it’s discovery by Christopher Columbus to the Lewis and Clarke expeditions, America has proven itself to be full of rich resources, possessing vast open land suitable for settlement.  Now, centuries later, it seems like many things have become supersized.  From 7-Eleven’s Double Gulp at 64 0z (which can contain almost half a pound of sugar, mind you) and SUVs to shopping at Costco, where you need an SUV to haul all the bulk items home.  However, as many things are growing in size, technology seems to be shrinking.  As Intel’s TFLOPS supercomputer shrank from 6-foot stacks to a single microchip, nanotechnology gains more attention in the scientific world.  The potentials of nanotechnology are endless.  It can be applied to computer technology in producing CPUs, biomedical research for potential implantations or treatments for diseases, and chemical synthesis as well as molecular self-assembly.  Nevertheless, nanotechnology also has its downfalls.  Due to its relatively new introduction to science, there are many unknown factors that researchers deal with.  One of these is potential harmful exposure to nanoparticles.  Since nanoparticles are so small, and obviously not visible to the naked eye, they could cause health hazards to the people working in the laboratories.

Aside from the future potential of nanotechnology, one interesting direction that research has taken is in the clothing industry.  Scientists have developed many ideas in creating stainless, wrinkle-free clothing.  This is frequently seen in the market as cotton-polyester blends.  In actually, the cloth fibers have been coated with a special material (which varies according to brand and price) that repels water and oil, giving the clothing its “stainless” claim.  However, even the most waterproof jacket will essentially become wet if it is soaked in water for a long period of time.  As a result, a new type of material has been developed in which polyester fibers are coated with nano-sized silicone filaments, creating the most water-repellent material yet.  Although the fabric can stay intact even when rubbed vigorously, it could not survive an everyday washing machine cycle.  Nonetheless, its highly water-repellent properties foreshadow an era of self-cleaning clothing. Imagine if you never had to do a load of laundry again…

A drop of water on a piece of fabric treated with silicone nanoparticles

A drop of water on a piece of fabric treated with silicone nanoparticles

For more information:

by Jane Chen

week9: Nanotech by zoo duck hwang

Monday, March 9th, 2009

“The origin of the word, ‘nano-’, is the Greek, nanos, meaning a dwarf”


One nanosecond is one billionth second, and one nanometer is one millionth meter. In other words, nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale well beyond the scope of micro, one millionth. In fact, this technology allows us to explore the world of nano- which we have never been and enables us to create whole new materials by manipulating the atomic structure of the raw materials. Since this fascinating technology is still under influence of the law of nature as well as quantum mechanics, it is possible that any unexpected events can be happened from indiscreet application of the technology.

The movie, Innerspace (1987), is all about the happenings of red blood cell size of a submarine which is injected into human body to explore. In 21st century, nanotechnology proposes the possibility of having this kind of submarine, so called as Nanobot. For example, nanobot actually will go into the body of patient with cancer to find the cancer cell and give medical treatments. Even though the technology can bring huge improvements to human beings’ life, New York Times picked nanotechnology as one of technology which might bring the destruction of our world.

The primary concern is arisen from the nature of nanotechnology. Because it deals with very small things, it is very hard to control after the creation of that small thing, and nano-sized particles can across anything including human beings’ skin. One of environmental toxicologist, Dr.Eva Oberdorster from Southern Methodist university, warned the high potential of invasion of nanoparticles into our biological system and the possible consequence of brain damage. In fact, she did the experiment which she dissolved fullerence nanoparticles into water and put basses to live in the water, and found that the large fraction of basses showed the symptom of brain damages. This incident rate of brain damages after exposure to nanoparticles was 19 times higher than the basses with normal water. Another research done by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that TiO2 nanoparticles, used in many cosmetic products which is proudly advertised as the most effective products with nanotechnology, can harm neuron cells since excessive amount of active oxygen is secreted as reacting to TiO2.

It is true that nanotechnology will bring us a whole new world with its potential of infinite application into almost all industrial fields. However, it is also true that we have to develop the regulation, at the same time, to control indiscreet usage of that technology because of the high risk.       

Nanotechnology, a Look back Tung X. Dao

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Nanotechnology affects our world by a great deal, even though we don’t realize it. Today, we have the ability to carry around our entire music collection and listen to it simply by carrying around an iPod. The trends in the market tend to follow the rules that Professor Gimzewski mentioned, “Smaller, faster, cheaper”. As it turns out, music carrying devices have followed that suit very well, as over the years, CD players replaced the Walkman, MP3 players replaced the CD player, iPods replaced the MP3 player, and smaller iPods replaced the larger iPods. The trend follows suit everywhere else, as well. It has gotten so advanced that nanotechnology used for medicinal purposes is looming in the future.

Too small? Or not small enough?

Too small? Or not small enough?

It is always funny to look back at our world before miniaturization occurred. Popular Mechanics reported in 1949 in an article aptly titled “Computers in the future may weigh less than 1.5 tons”. Fast forward to today when most of us in class are surfing the internet with our less-than-five pound laptops. It’s always a situation that has its pros and cons. While computing power is at blazing fast speeds and unbelievable portability with only more to come, sure, it can also mean that it’s easier to be occupied during important events. There was a Jay Leno “Headline” submitted and aired a few years back of a woman at a city government meeting playing solitaire. Mad TV created a great skit that parodies this trend in “The Price is Right – 1986” in which the prize is “A Talk about 100 from Motorola, boasts a variety of features, from its light weight 10 pound design, to its fashionable easy to carry battery shoulder sack. Just charge it for 10 hours and enjoy up to 4 full minutes of cordless conversation.”

Miniaturization also has other issues as well. Since we human beings are only finitely sized beings, there comes a point in which making something so small becomes disadvantageous. Take for instance the micro-SD card. Measuring 11×15x1 millimeters, it is small enough to be easily lost. Its extra small size also means that it is difficult to take a piece of tape and write one’s contact information on it as one would on a 36.5×42.9×3.1mm CompactFlash card. The latter has almost ten times the surface area to write on. When holding a CF card, it feels a lot more substantial in the hand than does the microSD card. The microSD card is so small that it can fit inside a hollowed out nickel, whose diameter is 21.1 mm and thickness 2 mm. Compare that to the 18.6 mm diagonal and 1 mm thickness of the microSD card. There are a few places online that sell such an object, running for around 30 dollars each at one particular site. Surely there are cases when the ability to smuggle data like that can be quite handy, not to mention unethical at times, but that is where we are at.

Medicine also sees both the good and bad sides of nanotechnology. While nanobots can travel inside us to destroy malignant tissue to the manufacturing of cellular tissue, there are reports that indicate that carbon nanotubes can be as dangerous as asbestos. It seems as though it is impossible that we will ever escape the contrast that is good and bad, for we would be no longer human.

Tung X. Dao


Week 9_ Nanotechnology by Joseph Duy Nguyen

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Nanotechnology is currently one of the most rapidly growing fields in the scientific community. The possibilities with nanotechnology are enormous due to the change in chemical properties of matter on the atomic and molecular scale. For example, gold which is normally inert and stable at the macroscale can be used as a chemical catalyst at the nanoscale. Nanotech utilizes matter that is at the level of a billionth of a meter, 10-9 of a meter. The most promising development with nanotech has to do with a family of carbon allotropes called fullerenes. Fullerenes are composed entirely of carbon shaped into spherical, ellipsoidal, tubal, or plane shapes. Buckyballs, spherical shaped fullerenes,  are of special interest due to their ability to hold hydrogen, and possibly other elements, within themselves. This discovery gives buckyball has the potential to be the container for hydrogen in hydrogen fuel cell car. Hydrogen fuel cell car is highly valued due to its pollution-free operation. But due to no method of cost-effectively storing large amount of hydrogen, it is currently out of the question. However, with this, hydrogen fuel cell car might be possible in the near future.

The nanotechnology industry has developed some very interesting technological innovative products. The Aerogel Footwarmer designed by Aergogels is currently in use by the military special task force. This footwarmer utilizes the property of nanoparticles to enable a better foot insulation with less thickness. It currently gives 3-to-20 times more thermal performance at a given thickness compared to other foot insulations. Medicinal nanotech products are also on the market. The Flex Power joint and muscle pain cream boasts the ability of using 90 nanometer liposomes to soothe muscle aches. Many pro athletes have invested in this technology. Beauty products such as skin care has now include nanomaterials to aid in its performance. Another very interesting technological product is the Nanosilver Wound Dressing for burn victims. It uses nanoemulsive disinfectant cleaner to clean and disinfect wounds in one step. This is a lot more convenient than the conventional only-cleaner or only-disinfect products. As seen, nanotechnology is being integrated into all aspects of consumer products without many people actually aware of it.

Skin product used by athletes containing nanotech.

Skin product used by athletes containing nanotech.

Wound dressing product using nanotech.

Wound dressing product using nanotech.

As with any new technology, there always exist many risks and unknowns. Similar to GM products, the use of nanotechnology carries the risk of unknown long term effects to the environment and its inhabitants. Many scientists are afraid that nanoparticles pollution may pose a health risk to humans. The case study conducted by Eva Oberdörster, Ph.D., with Southern Methodist University in Texas found extensive brain damage in fishes exposed to fullerene for only 48 hours at a moderate dosage. This gives some substance to why certain scientists have been against the development of nanotechnology for widespread application.

Here are two links I came upon when I was writing this blog:

-Joseph Duy Nguyen

Week 9 - NANOTECH, by Jonathan Diamond

Monday, March 9th, 2009

                Okay so to begin this semi-final blog, I would just like to talk about how amazing the space elevator would be, if produced. (To make this a viable idea, nanotechnology would be utilized to create the carbon tubes).  This movie: does a very good job in describing exactly how the space elevator works, and how the nanotubes are created.  Then this movie ( does an incredible job at unleashing your imagination— pushing the limits to where reality stops and science fiction begins.  Near the end of the film new ideas are brought forth regarding an existence where these space elevators become easily produced:  there will exist commercial access to space, new industries will form, solar satellites could be created to harness solar energy and send surpluses to earth in an effort to end our energy crisis, lunar base could become an extremely viable possibility and commercial space travel can become a reality as well.  A space elevator could also be constructed on other planets such as mars.  A mars cable could be much shorter than one on Earth. Mars’ surface gravity is 38% of Earth’s, even though it rotates around its axis in about the same time as Earth.  Due to this fact, the orbit at which items must be to achieve tangential fall is much lower, and thus, the elevator would be much shorter. Carbon nanotubes might not be required to construct the mars elevator due to its shortness, however, building a Martian elevator would be a challenge because the moon Phobos is in a low orbit, and intersects the equator twice every orbit.

                Asside from the space elevator, 2008 has been a year for many new nano-inventions.  One of such inventions is a contact lense with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman vision.

Engineers at the University of Washington used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuits and lights.  “Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside,” said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it’s extremely promising.”  The uses for this form of device are almost limitless: professional drivers or pilots could see speeds without taking their eyes away from their primary jobs, an entire new generation of video game virtual reality could be produced, people could even have their computer “monitors” be inside their eyes.  Although testing has only been done on a rabbit for twenty minutes (results: zero adverse effects), human testing has not yet begun.  Ideally, installing or removing the bionic eye would be as easy as popping a contact lens in or out, and once installed the wearer would barely know the gadget was there”, Parviz said.  It has been announced that prototypes will not correct vision, however later down the line, such could also be worked into the lenses.  This research and invention is being funded by National Science Foundation and a Technology Gap Innovation Fund from the University of Washington.  WE shall see how soon this amazing gadget becomes a reality.


by, Jonathan Diamond