Chapter 5: Where Nanoscience Becomes Nanoart – NanoInnovation: What Every Manager Needs to Know

5
Where Nanoscience Becomes Nanoart

It is good to understand that art, science and technology are not separate. Then we are able to learn from each other.

– Hugh McGrory, Filmmaker, from a 2008 Interview by Nanotechnology Now

Many nanoinnovations come from the world of art and design, and this is appropriate considering that much of nanotechnology involves the design of new materials and devices. The connection between nanoinnovation and nanoart is impressive. Nanoart has been used to vividly illustrate how nanostructures can be manipulated with extreme precision. For many researchers, an artistic representation was the first proof of concept of their work. For others, a work of art or artistic pattern provided the inspiration for a scientific achievement.

Don Eigler created an IBM logo from 35 xenon atoms – something familiar and artistic, yet something that had never been done before. Ned Seeman drew his inspiration for a critical breakthrough in DNA nanotechnology from a woodcut by the Dutch artist Mauritz Cornelis Escher. One of Paul Rothemund's first examples of DNA origami was a happy face. The term “DNA origami” took its name from a Japanese art form. A. John Hart used his Nanobliss nanoart Web site to illustrate how a forest of carbon nanotubes could be turned into the first nanoscale portrait of a US president. Neri Oxman, who is both a designer/architect and materials scientist, has shown how elegant nanoforms can be engineered into practical nanofunctions, from construction materials to “carpal skin.”

Historically, the link between art and nanoscience is even stronger. The nanoarchaeology examples included in this book are all artistic. The Lycurgus Cup is a work of art. The decorative surface of the Damascus Sword has a distinctive damask pattern that formed naturally on the blade during the sword-making process. Mayan blue pigment was used to decorate buildings, pottery, and paintings.

Nanoscale art – called nanoart – includes artistic renditions of nanoscale structures that are created by manipulating atoms and molecules using physical or chemical processes, as well as artistic images and patterns that occur in Nature. Most of these images are produced in clean rooms by scanning electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes. Often, the black and white images are colorized using Photoshop or other software programs to highlight or emphasize various features of interest. Some nanoart may be very important, such as developing new designs and patterns for use in the next generation of semiconductors. Other examples are more whimsical, such as finding an arrangement of zinc oxide nanostructures that resemble a teddy bear (see Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1 This image of a nanoscale teddy bear has become an iconic example of nanoart since it won a first place prize in the Nanoart exhibition at the 2008 Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society. The image was created by Helia Jalili, using an aqueous zinc nitrate solution as an electrolyte to prepare these zinc oxide nanostructures. Deb Pradham took the SEM image (image courtesy of Helia Jalili, University of Waterloo).

For more than a century, biological structures such as viruses and proteins have been depicted by artists. Many innovations are conceptualized or visualized by artists before they are able to be engineered, such as the artificial blood cell envisioned and patented by nanomedicine pioneer Robert Freitas.

In the early 2000s, university faculty and students began to discover recognizable images in the nanomaterials they were studying. They observed particles of zinc oxide that looked like nanoflowers. Scientists began to characterize carbon nanotubes and nanowires as thickets or “forests.” They digitally fine-tuned their nanoimages and added color to emphasize specific features.

Today, commercial nanolithography products such as MicroAngelo make it possible to take a line drawing of Pablo Picasso's “Don Quixote” or the map of Africa and render it at the nanoscale. MicroAngelo works by converting an image to a list of coordinates and creates a lithography pattern that can be used to manipulate the tip of a probe in an atomic force microscope (AFM).

A Short History of Nanoart

During the 1990s, the first published images of nanomaterials were not visually exciting. Nanoimages are black and white. A single carbon nanotube looks like a smooth tube (or worm) and a cluster looks like a tangle of spaghetti, or a tightly packed mass whose edge resembles the face of a cliff.

By the early 2000s, scientists and students were experimenting with more sophisticated forms and patterns. In Fall 2002, the Materials Research Society began hosting their nanoart competition called “Science as Art.” Nanoscale researchers – especially students – began finding and creating identifiable images such as a teddy bear, Santa Claus, or the letter P in images of nanomaterials, similar to how we might see a lion's head in a storm cloud. Since nanoimages are typically colorless, many of these images were artificially colored or digitally tweaked using Adobe Photoshop. In some cases, artistic elements were added using nanoprobes.

In Spring 2005, Cris Orfescu pioneered nanoart as a new form of art for which he won the first prize for new media at the “Affaire in the Gardens” art show in Beverly Hills. Cris is a materials scientist and artist, and a nanoart pioneer. He was born in Bucharest, Romania, and since 1991 has lived and worked in Los Angeles. In 2006, he founded NanoArt21™, which promotes nanotechnology through art and sponsors an international nanoart competition. These images range from STM and TEM images of nanoscale structures and patterns to colorful abstract art.

Cris, who holds a Master's degree in materials science and has studied drawing and architecture, describes nanoart as “the transition from science to art through technology.” His philosophy captures the spirit of nanoart: “NanoArt21 is aimed to raise the public awareness of nanotechnology and its impact on our lives. I consider NanoArt to be an appealing and effective way to communicate with the general public and to inform people about the new technologies of the 21st century.”

Many nanoart entries illustrate the complex and often exquisite structure found in Nature, such as a grain of pollen or a crystal. One memorable entry in the Fall 2008 nanoart competition at the Materials Research Society in Boston showed a nanoimage of a colored butterfly wing, with one scale tipped over that was grey. This image demonstrated vividly that the color of the butterfly wing did not come from a pigment or dye, but rather from the size, shape, and orientation of the nanosized scales, and the wavelength of light (color) they reflect. Another entry in the same competition depicted a “tower” of nanowires illustrating how nanowires have a tendency to curl and spiral, which can complicate production and control for commercial applications.

Several nanoart images from the Materials Research Society have become iconic, such as the award winning image of the zinc oxide teddy bear. The Nano Teddy Bear was created by Helia Jalili while she was at the University of Waterloo. As one Australian fan commented on Flickr, “awesome shot, love it, what a new way of looking at the world.” After winning the MRS award, Helia worked as a postdoc researcher and staff scientist at MIT, and in 2011 joined Panalytical B.V. in Boston as an applications scientist.

Today, hundreds of talented students and research teams participate in nanoart competitions every year. Their contributions have helped push the frontiers of science and demonstrated the proof of concept for many nanoinnovations such as nanolithography and materials science.

In research laboratories around the world, stunning images are being created by nanoscience artists – but you don't need a scanning tunneling microscope to see their images. Nanoart is displayed in digital galleries on the Web, in nanoart exhibitions at prestigious scientific conferences, and at art/design exhibitions.

5.1 Holistic Nano at the Convergence of Nanobliss, Nanoform, and Nanofunction

Nanoart is part of a holistic approach to nanoinnovation, where scientists are using their sense of art and design to develop commercial scientific achievements. One of the best examples of a “holistic” nanoinnovator who personifies this approach is Anastasios John Hart, who leads the Mechanosynthesis Group at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

John Hart is best known as the founder of the Nanobliss Web site (www.nanobliss.com). He was one of the first to demonstrate how to grow “forests of nanotubes” on silicon substrates with finely rendered details. His early Nanobliss examples showed that intricate geometrical shapes and even a presidential portrait could be engineered from nanomaterials.

John's innovation journey began with the use of nanoart to illustrate the scientific principles involved in the formation and manipulation of carbon nanotubes to produce familiar images. His Nanobliss Web site (www.nanobliss.com) has showcased a wide range of nanoscale structures, including the iconic nanoscale portrait of President Barack Obama (see Figure 4.1). The accompanying gallery of nanoimages (see Figure 5.2) illustrates a few of the nanoscale architectures that have been developed as part of this research.

Figure 5.2 The extensive imaging work by Prof. A. Jon Hart at the University of Michigan and his colleagues are giving an entire generation of researchers ideas for innovations based on nanoscale structures, ranging from growing forests of nanotubes to the award-winning development of creating nanoskins to regulate environmental conditions and improve materials used in construction and architectural design (images courtesy of A. John Hart, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

The artistic images showcased on the Nanobliss site are created by using masks and templates as well as more sophisticated techniques that induce these structures to self-organize. Working at the convergence of form and structure has led John Hart and his colleagues to pioneer several next generation innovations such as “nanoskins” for construction and environmental control.

“We believe that nanoskins can be engineered to help control the environment in buildings and rooms, without the use of electronic or mechanical controls,” John explains. “Nanoskins can be designed to react to certain conditions, and automatically reconfigure their shape or the size of their pores. Nanoskins can help regulate the flow or moisture, air, light, dust and other environmental factor. We've already demonstrated these capabilities in the lab. Nanomaterials can also increase the strength and durability of existing materials such as cement. Many of the innovations we're working on now came from our work in nano-imaging and fabricating various type of structures. Scanning probe microscopes allow us to see what's possible and experiment with various structures, and are a critical part of our innovation toolkit.”

In November 2010, John Hart was one of 43 scientists and engineers who shared a total of $16.5 million in competitive grants through the Young Investigator Program of the US Air Force's Office of Scientific Research. This research focuses on morphing carbon nanotube microstructures. John Hart's group has also been collaborating with the Mediated Matter research group led by Neri Oxman at MIT to develop nanoskins and other architectures that have the ability to adapt and respond to the environment.

In 2008, John Hart and Neri Oxman won first place in the newly created “Next Generation” category of the prestigious Holcim Awards, an international prize awarded to innovative architects and designers. Professors Hart and Oxman were honored for their visionary building skin research using carbon nanotubes to develop materials that can be assigned specific structural, functional, and environmental properties. The Holcim Awards are an international competition conducted by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, whose primary sponsor is Holcim Ltd., one of the world's leading producers of cement and aggregates.

You're probably wondering, how does cement involve nanoinnovation? Cement was used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans, and it would seem that there wouldn't be much room for innovation in this ancient, traditional industry. Actually, the cement industry has been a major beneficiary of nanoinnovation. The ability to image and manipulate nanomaterials, and to engineer new types of materials with advanced properties, has opened the door to a new era in research for the construction industry. Building materials that incorporate nanomaterials are introducing new properties to cement and other aggregates used in buildings, roads, and bridges – breaking the mold, so to speak, in an industry that has been “rigid” for thousands of years.

In recent years, John's research has led him into the emerging field of nanomanufacturing, with a focus on novel methods for mass-producing nanoscale structures and patterns using readily available materials. In 2010, he introduced his course on Nanomanufacturing at the University of Michigan.

In February 2012, John Hart described his current research interest in nanomanufacturing at an annual event I hosted at the Wharton School called the Emerging Technologies Update Day – the theme was “The Future of Nanoinnovation.” John explained that his early research involved growing forests of nanotubes and learning how to turn them into precisely engineered patterns. “I'll probably always be remembered for nanobama,” he mused. His early research reflected a keen interest in understanding how nanoscale patterns and processes work, but his ultimate goal is to find new and better ways to manufacture nanoscale structures on a commercial scale. His most recent approach sounds surprisingly simple – and characteristically creative.

“Imagine having a machine like a nano-Xerox copier that allows you to create patterns from nanomaterials on a readily available substrate such as a sheet of paper or plastic, instead of on an expensive substrate like computer-grade silicon,” he told the conference attendees. “This would offer exciting possibilities for researchers, students and teachers, as well as companies. It could make nanolithography devices as common as photocopiers and computer laser printers.”

This “nanocopier” approach could also enable the creation and manufacture of nanoskins and new forms of nanotubes. At the Wharton conference, John showed an SEM image of small clusters of nanotubes that were standing up like sheaves of corn, and explained how they could be manipulated so that they twist together and arrange themselves in a pattern or matrix. These structures, shown in Figure 5.3, are created using a process called “capillary forming” to create twisting spires. These structures can be up to 10 times stiffer and stronger than polymers currently produced using microfabrication.

Figure 5.3 The process of creating “nanospires” uses a combination of chemical vapor deposition and capillary forming to create an array of nanotubes that can be made to twist or bend in many different ways. These structures can be engineered into surface materials such as nanoskins that exhibit new properties and commercial opportunities (image courtesy of A. John Hart).

John and his team have learned how capillary forces can change the structure of nanostructure geometries. “The starting shape influences how the capillary forces affect the geometry of the structures,” he explains. “Some bend, others twist and we can combine them in many different ways. This has important implications for the creation of custom nanostructured surfaces. With our technique, we can design surfaces or ‘skins’ with many different properties.” The process is described in more detail in his article [1].

It is striking to see John's progression from experimenting with patterns and processes – using nanoart as a proof of concept – to the development of radical new processes that could offer exciting new solutions for patterning and manufacturing nanomaterials. He is a great example of the winding path that many nanoinnovators take as they sail like ancient navigators into uncharted territory.

5.2 Innovating at the Convergence of Biomimetics, Nanoart, and Nanoscience

There is an obvious link between creativity in science and creativity in art. This convergence is a major driver of nanoinnovation. Neri Oxman's work at MIT illustrates how innovation is evolving at the intersection of biomimetics, design, and nanoscience.

Neri Oxman is without question one of the “trendiest” scientist/designers in the field of nanotechnology (although her work is not limited to nanoscale research). She says that much of her work is inspired by Nature, which she calls a “grand materials engineer” and a “multifunctional designer.” She has drawn many lessons from Nature such as studying the matrix structure of an eggshell to determine how material designs can incorporate biomimetic architectures. She is constantly asking intriguing questions such as “What would Nature 2.0 look like?” and “Can we print buildings?”

One of her innovations is a method called “computationally enabled form finding” that she describes as “bringing together material properties and environmental constraints, mixing them together, and then generating form out of them.” This approach allows a designer to use these tools to become an “editor of constraints.”

A major goal of her research is to use digital design and fabrication technologies to mediate matter and the environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems. She is currently exploring how to construct buildings with 50% less material or 50% less energy, using a technology she calls “variable property printing” to allow mapping of structural variations in elasticity, rigidity, and other properties that can be varied by integrating soft, stiff, opaque, and translucent materials and applying or “printing” them where they are needed.

A specific example that illustrates her designer's approach to innovation – developed with Craig Carter from MIT – is a kind of “electronic skin” to help protect against carpal tunnel syndrome. The “carpal skin” is worn like a customized glove and is designed by digitally unfolding the patient's skin to create a pain profile map that determines where hard and soft materials should be placed in the skin-tight glove to provide the best function and least pain. The gloves are “printed” using a 3D printing process.

The Promise of 3D Printing

The concept of printing nanomaterials runs like a theme through nanoinnovation, in nanolithography and nanoelectronic circuits. If we carry the notion of printing to the next level, we need to consider three-dimensional printing – 3D printing – as a technology for designing and manufacturing nanoinnovations. Three-dimensional printing – also called stereolithography – was invented in 1986 by Chuck Hull, the founder of 3D Systems, Inc., the first company formed to commercialize the technology.

In the future, 3D printers will become an indispensable part of the nanoinnovator's toolkit. These nanoprinters could take the form of the “nanocopier” envisioned by John Hart, or could resemble existing 3D printers currently used by product designers to develop and share prototypes for industrial parts.

Looking ahead to the next decade and beyond, 3D printing may be one of the most powerful instruments in the nanoinnovator's toolkit. Three-dimensional printers are devices that use raw materials such as plastic or metal to spray or etch or otherwise create a prototype. Rapid prototyping has been available for a couple of decades; however, using nanomaterials in 3D printing is still a seminal concept.

Most 3D printers look like a glass-walled box with spray nozzles positioned around the center. The nozzles spray a material such as liquid plastic or metal to create a three-dimensional object. The printers take their instructions from a computer, which means that someone in Boston can create the object, and someone in Europe or Asia can “print” it.

Three-dimensional printing enables materials researchers and product designers to quickly render custom prototypes for products they are developing. Three-dimensional printing goes beyond computerized simulations viewed on a two-dimensional screen, to actually render a prototype as an object. Today's 3D printers combine electronics and materials in many ways to create stretchable electronics, customized prosthetics, and bioengineered components used in medical devices and much more.

Cornell University is an academic “home” of 3D printing and emerging robotic technologies. Dr. Hod Lipson, Director of Graduate Studies in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell, was one of the early pioneers in 3D printing. His research group and successive classes of students has created several 3D printing devices and shared those designs online for whoever in the world wants to pursue development of 3D printing. The Cornell Creative Machines Lab includes 3D printing information, blueprints, and applications on its Web site (creativemachines.cornell.edu/Tissue_Eng). One of the most interesting applications is the use of a cell-seeded alginate hydrogel to “print” living tissue in 3D shapes, using CAD data. Also included is extensive (and fascinating) research on a wide variety of robotics, including molecubes, self-replicating and self-organizing robots, microfluidic assembly and much more. Modular self-assembling robots and other structures such as molecubes that are being engineered at the macroscale provide models for similar self-assembly, which is a Holy Grail goal in the field of molecular manufacturing, since many of these self-conforming robots use innovative ways to reconfigure themselves, even if the parts are separated.

It is intriguing and difficult to predict how 3D printers will evolve, but early indications are extremely promising and this is a rich field of study for innovators in fields as diverse as engineering, space technology, and cooking! The first generation of commercial 3D printers is just beginning to enter the consumer marketplace. A 3D printer called the Replicator was demonstrated by New York start-up Makerbot Industries at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. CAD software that is available free online creates an object, which the Replicator creates by extruding a plastic thread from a spindle and moving it through a print head to create the object, layer by layer. A competing system called the Cube was launched at the CES by 3D Systems – one of the Cube's advantages is the use of replaceable cartridges to supply the printer with raw material.

While 3D printing is not a nanotechnology per se, this technology can incorporate nanocomposite materials and functions. Nanoinnovators can use 3D printing to customize nanoskins and coatings – not only for research purposes but also for commercial applications. Three-dimensional printing is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the field of innovation. Imaginative scientists and engineers have embraced this technology and are using it to print 3D versions of everything from blood vessels to pizza for space travelers.

Italian inventor Enrico Dini has developed a 3D printing-type device called the “D-Shape” that has the ability to print entire buildings. The D-Shape creates sedimentary stone using a magnesium-based material to bind sand particles for construction applications. Dini has printed structures a few feet high and hopes to use his innovation to construct entire buildings. The inventor founded a company called Monolite to commercialize his technology. Monolite has been collaborating with architects at Foster+Partners and the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore the possibility of using a modified 3D printer to use moon dust to print habitats for moon explorers or colonists. The goal is to use moon dust to “print” cellular structured walls that would provide an effective shield against micrometeroids and radiation, to protect people living or working on the moon. Dini has demonstrated the ability to print building materials at the rate of 2 m/h and says that the next generation of his D-shape will print at a rate of 3.5 m/h, which could be used to produce a building in 1 week.

A Star Trek Nano Replicator?

As previously mentioned, a scanning probe microscope has already traveled to Mars. It is fun to imagine what other nano-enabled devices will find their way into space, to help us “boldly go where no one has gone before.”

A few years ago, I was earning a Master's degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania and took a nanotechnology class from Jody Roberts who is a program director and researcher studying changes in the practice of chemistry caused by technological innovations, social and political pressure, and emerging science.

In one of his classes, Jody mused that one day in the future, we might have a nanotechnology replicator similar to the replicator in the Star Trek TV and film series. This replicator could produce almost anything, from food to materials, tools, and devices. The raw material for this replicator would be a nanoscale form of carbon, which could be manipulated at the molecular level to produce food and other organic materials. This would be an ideal device for future space missions. Astronauts could use carbon molecules as a raw material to “grow” food for a Mars mission. In reality, scientists and engineers are actually taking the first steps to “print” food, using technology that exists today.

Hod Lipson has already taken a first step. His research group at Cornell University has developed a 3D food printer that has demonstrated the ability to “print” food. His Fab@Home project at Cornell is developing versions of 3D printers that are capable of manufacturing custom objects on demand, including food. Cornell scientists have developed substances called hydrocolloids that they can modify with flavoring agents to product different tastes and textures. The device has the ability to “print” new forms of food, such as a pyramid of turkey or a multiflavored dessert.

The French Culinary Institute in Manhattan has been experimenting with this technology for several years. In the hands of some artistic chefs, we could begin to see some new forms and textures of food. Blueprints for the 3D food printer are available for free online, so entrepreneurs and hobbyists can build their own. The 3D food printer is driven by a computer that requires the “3D food chef” to enter three key parameters: the shape of what you want to create, a description of the materials, and how they should be printed. Several prototypes and early products are in development or poised to enter the market.

It is likely that the first humans who land on Mars will take a 3D printer to “print” a broken screw, a hinge, a seal, or a hamburger. In 2013, the concept of a replicator capable of creating different types of food took one step closer to reality when NASA announced that the space agency is providing $125 000 in seed funding to develop a 3D printer capable of printing food items, for use on long space missions. The research grant was awarded to Anjan Contractor, a mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) in Austin, Texas. Contractor's design uses replaceable powder cartridges as building blocks to create a wide range of foods. The powders used in the cartridges will have a long shelf life of 30 years and could be used to feed astronauts on the first manned missions to Mars, and on longer missions in the future. Contractor has already printed chocolate and the first goal for his prototype is to print a pizza.

Imagine an astronaut using a 3D printer to create a pizza layer by layer, applying the ingredients in layers to build the dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and maybe even sausage or mushrooms, and vegetables. It may look more like a layer cake than the pizza you get from your local Pizza Hut or Dominoes, but it could also include 3D sausages, cheese, and other familiar and tasty ingredients.

The NASA food synthesizer is only one example of science fiction becoming science reality at the convergence of design, art, science, and Nature. NASA has an active open innovation program that encourages inventors, innovators, and commercial partners to work on applications for 3D printers that can be used on NASA missions.

NASA has awarded research grants for the development of 3D printers that can be used to make food in space, especially for deep space missions. Research is being conducted at the Habitability and Environmental Factors Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center – where NASA conducts space food product development and conducts food tasting tests.

An equally important application is the use of 3D printing to manufacture tools and components that may break, or to provide solutions for problems encountered in space. NASA and Made In Space Inc. have announced that they are collaborating on the first 3D microgravity printing experiment scheduled to be conducted on the International Space Station in 2014. The technology was developed under NASA's Flight Opportunities Program and is partly funded under an SBIR grant.

5.3 Using Art to Conceptualize the Future

There is another function of nanoart that has a special relationship with innovation – the ability to conceptualize the future. If you combine something you can see only using an atomic force microscope with something that might not exist yet, the only way to visualize it is through an artistic representation. Illustrators have been showing us “what's possible” in the realm of fantasy and science fiction, for centuries.

In science, illustrators have illustrated atoms, molecules, proteins, and many other chemical and biological structures long before we had the ability to image them through a microscope. Some complex processes, such as how proteins fold, use sophisticated computer programs to color-code the protein strands, which is something we can't quite do with microscopes, as yet.

Many of the most exciting and radical innovations that we will see in the coming decade exist in the minds of the innovators who are working on them, or in the minds and works of science fiction writers and film directors. However, there are also many innovations that have been granted patents, that haven't been implemented yet, and may not be implemented for another 10, 20, or even 30 years. These innovations are brought to life in illustrations that show us the future.

One of the most striking, well-known, and fascinating examples of this is the work of Robert Freitas, who has shown us the future of nanomedicine in his multiwork series entitled Nanomedicine, which was the first book-length technical discussion of potential medical applications using molecular nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. Much of Dr. Freitas' work is hypothetical or based on inventions and patents that will take decades to functionalize. In the meantime, we can visualize the possibilities through the imagination of the inventors such as Dr. Freitas, as well as illustrators who bring these ideas to life, visually.

Two examples of Dr. Freitas' vision are shown in Figure 5.4, which show artificial red blood cells (respirocytes) and artificial white blood cells (microbivores) conceived and designed by Robert Freitas. The concept of an artificial red blood cell is based on the notion that red blood cells transport oxygen (and some carbon dioxide), and therefore it seems reasonable that an artificial structure could perform the same task. White blood cells destroy pathogens in the bloodstream – Dr. Freitas' artificial white blood cell is conceived as a nanorobot that binds bacteria to the hull, where tiny manipulator arms move the bacterium to the ingestion port (the microbivore's “mouth”) where the microbe is digested.

Figure 5.4 (a) Respirocytes. This illustration shows respirocytes and red blood cells flowing through a blood vessel, including the surface of the respirocytes rendered in fine details. (b) Microbivore. The microbivore is an artificial white blood cell, a form of nanorobot. Both innovations were conceptualized and designed by Robert Freitas (images used with permission of Robert Freitas).

The most fascinating aspect of the relationship between nanoart and nanoinnovation is that, with the right amount of focus, resources, funding, and creativity, we can really make these things happen. We can bring to life the innovations depicted by illustrators. We can turn these artistic representations into functional technologies. We have the tools. We have the talent. We have the creativity. Nanoart is showing us the future, and it is our task, all of us, to make it happen.

Reference

  1. 1. De Volder, M., Tawfick, S.H., Park, S.J., Copic, D., Zhao, Z., Lu, W., and Hart, A.J. (2010) Diverse 3D microarchitectures made by capillary forming of carbon nanotubes. Advanced Materials, 22, 4384–4389.