Monday, August 16, 2010

Art and the Atom

I came across a news release recently, via Google news and discovered that in Christchurch, New Zealand, there is an interesting exhibition merging nanotechnology and art.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the University of Canterbury and the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Material and Nanotechnology that aims to bring scientists and artists together in order to communicate a brilliant 21st century technology to the public.

Nanotechnology is the engineering of materials the size of 1 billionth of a meter. When materials are built at such a small scale and of variant sizes, different properties, that which don't appear in it's chemical makeup at macro sizes spring forward, often surprising the scientists at work: Nano silver is completely anti-bacterial, carbon nano tubes are execellent conductors of electricity.

The MacDiarmid Institute donated $2000 dollars to be awarded to the best nanotechnology picture of the exhibition.

David Garret | Towers of Vertically Aligned Nano Tubes
These desnsly packed carbon nanotubes may one day be used in making sensitive electrodes in future sensors or for storing electricity in hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.

Carbon nano tubes can carry 1000 times more electricity thatn the equivalent volume of copper wire. It is likely in the future these will replace copper wire, such as those in your PC. They are also extremely strong, much more so than steal and just a fraction of it's weight. The possible uses boggle the mind.

Alec La Grow | Decahedral Nickel Rods Standing on End
Alec's Decahedral Nickel Rods are shown standing on their end where five triangle faces are presented to us. Five other rectangular faces exist on the other side of the image that extend from the surface, where the rods were grown.

These Nickel Rods may eventually have a use as a catalyst where nickel is currently used. Nano technology, like these rods, is able to produce nickel that has a greater surface area to volume ratio then the nickel currently used as a catalyst such as in the manufacture of margarine.

Thus Nanotechnology, when manufacturing costs become commercially acceptable offers us the chance to make great use of our materials and get a bigger bang for buck.

As well as Nanotechnology as Art there is a selection of New Zealands fine contemporary artists on display showcasing their wares inspired by Nanotechnology.

Sue Novell
The above piece is by Sue Novel, just one of the selected artists lending their work to the exhibition.

Sue's art draws on the parallels of nanotechnology as Sue has shown in this piece: as an image is cropped and zoomed in on at different sizes more detail is explored and new shapes take over. Eventually after several resolution changes you will see only pixels - the atom of computer graphics.

The collaboration of scientists and artists is a tremendous way to generate awareness in the community and a great way to get scientists and artists interested in each others work.

A video from a New Zealand news source gives a good run down on the exhibition.

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