Liquor Aging, Tiny Barrels, and Next Generation Solar Cells

"You've gotta give it a taste to know!" answered the long-haired, cowboy shirt-wearing distiller dude at Madison, Wisconsin's Old Sugar Distillery. He was responding to my incessant questions about how long their liquors take to age. His answer was interesting, but I wanted numbers! After some more pointed questions, he told me that most of their liquors …

Friday Video: Does Every Silver Lining Have a Cloud?

Happy Friday! That was a video by our friends at the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University. Our research goals are related to theirs. They are looking at things more from the perspective of the entire ecosystem, while we are taking a more "zoomed-in" approach--looking at things from the atomic- and molecular-scale. …

Silver For Your Smelly Socks??

Silver nanoparticles can be found in socks and sports clothing because of their ability to kill bacteria and inhibit unwanted odors.  Their antibacterial properties are exploited in a number of other products on the market, including cutting boards, computer keyboards, personal care products…and the list goes on. The multitude of uses explains why nanoparticles made …

Personal Care Products, Nano, and You

Here is a picture of the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduate) students and I sailing in Lake Michigan earlier this summer. It was slightly cold that day at 59℉ with 15 mph winds but also surprisingly sunny, which meant we needed to whip out the sunscreen. Did you know many sunscreens contain nanoparticles? Well, they …

Art as Inspiration for Science

What inspires people to do science? Perhaps you, Dear Reader, are interested in understanding how the physical world works.  Maybe you saw a rainbow, or ocean waves on the beach, when you were a kid, and therefore have a love for optics, physics, or oceanography. Human-made objects can also inspire scientists.  Quite a few people …

Nanomaterials Making Their Way into Fireworks

For many people the celebration of the 4th of July is not totally complete without a good aerial fireworks show. A good firework show needs to have two essential components to deliver that thrilling experience most of us love to see—sound and color effects. Nanotechnology could make it possible for these fireworks effects to be …

Nanoparticles With Your Coffee? A Java-Infused Science Experiment!

Many of us couldn’t make it through a day without a cup or two of our favorite caffeinated beverage. I usually start my day with a warm cup of coffee or tea. In fact, more than 50% of adults in America drink coffee on a daily basis, averaging about 3 cups a day. In the US, …

Citizen nanoscientists: Can you design nanomaterials from the couch?

Not too long ago, a team of frustrated scientists glanced up from their computer screens and saw the untapped potential beyond their lab doors. They had spent years trying to unravel the mysteries of protein folding, but some just couldn’t seem to be solved. Why not harness the brainpower of the public? The biochemists disguised …