Week 9/Nanotechnology and Its possibilities/Yu Hsiao

In our capitalist society, it seems like the more the better. We’re always trying to push the limit of everything. We try to earn as much money as we can. Engineers try to push the limit of technology as far as they can. We’re constantly improving technology and making the impossible possible. With the breakthroughs of nanotechnology, there are endless possibilities to its frontier. By making circuits down to the size of atoms, computer chips could be more efficient and a lot smaller so more information could be stored. IBM has made incredible advance in nano-sized chips. Engineers at IBM achieve this by using the property of self assembly to generate the circuits for the computer chip. Because there’s limit to Moore’s Law, because we can only go so far with minimizing the size of silicon chips. There’s technological barrier to it. So IBM chose molecules that have self assembly property. I thought this was interesting because it’s sort of an indirect way to engineer a product. Instead of making the circuits directly, molecules are put to self assemble themselves into a functional system.



I thought the self assembly feature could be applied to artists. By knowing how molecules could self assemble, arts could use it to their advantage. So they could indirectly working on their art work. By designing combination of molecules that are put together. This way, the artist only has part of the control over his/her art work. We’ve talked about a lot of art works that are created from chance, and chaos, where the artist has little part in controlling the outcome of the art work. But using nanotechnology, we could have a new form of art which the artists has control, but not total control over his/her work. This way, an artist might be expecting a molecule to self assemble into something, but he/she might have made a mistake in designing the molecules, and the molecules come out different. It’s a new way to be creative, and to create different possibilities.



In our society, we also try to make building higher and higher. We have high rises, and skylines. If we could built a space elevator, then we would really build a skyline. Now we’re seeing nanotechnology is making space elevator a reality. Carbon nanotubes are being discovered as a very strong material. It is claimed to be stronger than steel. This project is possible if we used space shuttle to carry cable that is as long as the geosynchronous orbit, 21,700 miles. The cable is then snaked into the earth and connected onto a platform like structure. At the platform, using electron laser beam to ride the carbon nanotube ribbons up the cable to make it stronger. Overtime, the cable would carry over 20 tons of carbon nanotube, and the space elevator is a reality.

If a space elevator is built, there are endless possibility to our world. Space travel will be easier, and the cost will probably go down. Everyone will be able to experience space, its weightlessness. It will open up opportunities for the art world as well. Artists will be able to explore how the art medium responds in space without gravity. This is done by using nanotechnology. I thought this is cool because by employing nanotechnology, we opened up a whole new possibility with architecture, the space elevator. But if the elevator becomes a reality, then we will have another whole new breakthrough, where things could be done in space, and space could become more accessible to everyone.

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