Turning Plastic Bags into Carbon Nanotubes

I was surprised to learn recently that plastic bags can be turned into a new material called carbon nanotubes. Prior to this, all I had heard about plastic bags was about the environmental threat that they potentially pose, either by accumulating in wildlife or clogging landfills with slow-to-break-down waste. Many recycling techniques have been developed …

Spying on chameleon nanoparticles inside living cells

If you are exposed to nanoparticles, you might think they would move around inside your body unchanged. However, it would be more accurate to think of them as tiny chameleons, constantly changing their properties as they move from one biological environment to another. Nanoparticles’ large surface area-to-mass ratio, which causes them to be highly reactive, …

The Mystery of the Surface: Your Kitchen Table is Far From Simple

The last time I played with Google Street View, I saw my car in the driveway and could practically count the teeth on a jack o’ lantern on my porch. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could drop-land on the surface of a nanoparticle and take a look around the scenery? What about …

One of the Most Sensitive Balances on the Planet – Quartz Crystal Microbalance

Take a look at your wrist.  Have you ever wonder what makes your watch tick with such precision?  What if I told you the same technology that causes your watch to work is also key to one of the most sensitive balances on the planet?  Sounds crazy right?! Well, I promise it’s not crazy!  The …

“How do Lasers Work?” or “Not your father’s lightsaber”

When Luke Skywalker receives his father’s lightsaber from Obi Wan in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, he learns that it is “not as random or clumsy as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” Here at our Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, we don’t work with weapons, no matter how sophisticated …