Pokémon Carbon Chemistry: Carbink and Diancie

For our Halloween blog post back in 2017, I used chemistry to figure out how many moles of gas are in a Gastly, a gaseous ghost/poison-type Pokémon. (Because Pokémon are fantastical creatures, it’s no surprise than many are either inspired by chemistry or can be understood through the lens of chemistry.) Today, as the world’s foremost writer on …

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Periodic Table: Nano-Style!

Did you know that 2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table? We chemists in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology are happy to celebrate this all year long! A particularly delicious example of the Periodic Table (image from the Science History Institute) The periodic table as we know it was first published 150 years …

Space Elevator: A Lasting Dream for a Sky-reaching Tree

Ever since the first human being looked up to the starry night, the dream of chasing the stars and space has never stopped. A long way back, in ancient Northern European mythology, the world tree, Yggdrasil, was a holy tree in the center of the universe, connecting the heavens and the earth. In Jack and …

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 …

The Atomic Difference Between Diamonds and Graphite

Everything is made of atoms. Usually these atoms are strongly connected to one another, in an amazing variety of configurations. But atoms are so tiny, how can we possibly understand the structure of matter at the atomic level? You probably have seen pictures of molecules or materials, zoomed in to the atomic level, which show …

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 …