How do we measure the size of nanoparticles in a solution?

The size of the materials in nanotechnology is one of the most important factors that power and define the properties of the nanomaterials. But there are many different techniques for measuring that size, and depending on the measurement methods, the results may vary! It doesn’t mean the actual lengths or diameters of the materials change: …

What gives gold nanoparticles their color?

In a previous post, Can gold melt at room temperature? Melting temperature depression!, we talked about how the color of gold changes from shiny yellow to dark red when it is shrunk down to the nanoscale. We know that lots of materials have interesting properties when they get that small, but why do gold nanoparticles have …

Seeing the Invisible

Human beings have been trying to figure out the elementary composition of the universe since the era of ancient Greece. Democritus, an ancient Greek philosopher, created atomic theory. In the atomic theory, everything is composed of “atoms” (from the Greek meaning “can’t be cut”) and these atoms are physically indivisible.1 The ancient Greeks speculated on …

Nanostructures in chameleons, damselflies, and peacocks (oh my!)

My favorite rain jacket is bright blue. So bright, in fact, that my first semester chemistry professor was able to point it out in a class of 300 people to explain principles of visible light and color. As it happened, the class benefited from two examples that day, my jacket and my face which turned …

Aerogels: Nanotechnology to Space and Beyond

Humans have been dreaming about space travel since the early ages. As many of you recall from the opening lines of Star Trek, it has been fascinating for humanity "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before." However, space exploration involves …

Sunburns and Circuits: How Nanotechnology is Pushing the Boundaries of Computing

Last July, IBM announced that it had developed a new computer chip that could boost computer speeds by 50%.1 The company achieved this performance boost by building their chip with transistors a mere 7 nanometers in diameter. To put this incredible feat of engineering into perspective, the building blocks of these new chips are smaller …

Turkeys and Photonic Crystals: Lots to Be Thankful For

Did you know that Americans consume a whopping average of 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving? That’s about 1 turkey for every 7 Americans!1,2 With the colossal number of turkeys consumed during the holidays, it only makes sense that we often think of turkeys as just a food source. But what if I were to tell …

How the Fruits Got Their Colors

It’s Sunday night and I am watching one of my favorite shows, which of course revolves around food. In this particular episode, competitors were challenged to incorporate blue into their baked delights without using artificial coloring. That may not seem to be much of a challenge, but there are actually very few naturally occurring blue …