How is a shopping cart like a nanoparticle? What coarse-grained molecular models can show us about nano-bio interactions

Imagine you work at a grocery store and you need to figure out how many shopping carts will fit in a certain space. You know that each shopping cart is 33 inches long, but you might decide to round that up to 36 inches (3 feet) for your estimation: That rounding is just one example …

Ep. 33 It Just Didn’t Feel Like Me: Belonging and Sexism in Science

Sustainable Nano Podcast cover image

How often do college women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experience sexism? And how do these experiences affect their likelihood of staying in scientific fields? In this episode we talk with Majel Baker, a counseling psychologist who investigated these questions in her doctoral dissertation. Spoiler alert: sexism is bad. But there are ways …

What is Aqua Regia, and what makes it royal?

Aqua regia, latin for “royal water”, is a fascinating, dangerous, and useful liquid that some of us in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology use on a regular basis. As I learned how to use this powerful material for my research, I started to wonder: What makes it royal? It turns out that aqua regia can …

Podcast Ep 22. On Thin Films and Nobel Prizes: Margaret Schott Profiles Katharine Burr Blodgett

At last summer's American Chemical Society national meeting, Dr. Margaret Schott of Northwestern University took the unusual step of giving her history division presentation as her subject, Dr. Katharine Burr Blodgett. In this episode we interview Dr. Schott about her own path in life and chemistry, as well as that of Dr. Blodgett, including the …

How to Understand Nobel Science? Food!

pretzel & bagel

Every year the Nobel Prizes bring some extra attention to science in the award categories of medicine, physics, and chemistry. This is a great opportunity for the general public to hear about science, but it can pose some communication challenges. How do you explain, for example, "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases …

Nobel 2014: What makes super-resolution microscopy so super?

The awarding of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Dr.s Betzig, Hell, and Moerner (my former research mentor) is a tremendous event! It is almost as tremendous as their scientific targets are tiny: they were awarded the prize for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, a technique for using a light microscope to examine objects as small …

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 …

“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 …