Teamwork Wins! Why Science Is Not an Individual Sport.

When you think about a scientist, what picture pops into your head? I’ll bet you’re picturing a lone scientist with wild hair, toiling away on some world-changing problem in lab. You know the one - that classic, crazy picture of the scientist. The truth is, when you’re a scientist one of the best parts of …

Nanotechnology Through History: Carbon-based Nanoparticles from Prehistory to Today

Since our early ancestors first learned to make fires, humans have been producing carbon-based nanoparticles. The smoke and soot from their campfires contained nanoparticles known as fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, along with many other combustion by-products. They must have thought the very crude nanoparticle preparations they created were a bit of a nuisance (depending on …

The Canary in the Coal Mine and a Whole Lot More: The Reproductive Habits and Scientific Utility of the Water Flea

Asexual and sexual reproduction are two ways that plants and animals can reproduce, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods of reproduction. Scientists have harnessed the asexual reproduction habits of a tiny freshwater crustacean in order to better understand the biological effects of environmental pollutants. Before we get to that, let’s …

What Are Science Conferences Like?

Firstly, there are lots of scientists and very few lab coats or safety goggles — as they come to talk science instead of do science. There are lots of seminars — from the mind-shatteringly awesome to the "pretty OK". There are also "poster sessions" where people quickly describe their research to one another, and those can be great …

What Does Sustainable Have To Do With Nano?

Sustainability is a hot topic these days, even making its way into advertisements for one of the world’s biggest companies (see below). I would guess that on this very day, you have thought about sustainability, or at least encountered the idea. Maybe you saw a commercial that told you to “go green”, or read an …

A Giant of Nanotechnology Falls – Heinrich Rohrer

Heinrich (“Heini”) Rohrer, a nanotechnology pioneer, Nobel Prize winner, and personal mentor to me and many other scientists, has died. The field of nanotechnology was largely enabled by Heini’s co-invention of the scanning tunneling microscope along with his collaborator, Gerd Binnig, in the early-1980s. This microscope scans an atomically sharp tip across a surface to …

Kids Learn About Nanodiamonds and I Learn About Kids

“Hey do you guys want to see some fluorescent nanodiamond water?!” I eagerly yelled out as two little boys walked by. Honestly, they probably had no idea what I was talking about, but they still excitedly wandered over. I handed them an ultraviolet flashlight and encouraged them to take a look underneath the black drape …

How Do Scientists in Four Different States Work Together?

Science doesn't always look like this: Sometimes it looks like this! We have scientists in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and even Washington!  Every week we get together for a videoconference to coordinate all the different kinds of research happening here at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.  Above is a series of screenshots Franz Geiger took during …

Nature’s Nanomachines Harnessed to Enable Healthier Delicious Ice Cream

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of nanotechnology is how close in size the nanoparticles we can make are to the nano-sized components of living organisms. These nano sized proteins, lipids and nucleic acids have evolved to form the network of biological machines to support the abundance of life on this planet. Just as …