Making Abstract Concrete: Nanotechnology

CMU MPS 2016 Fall, Communication Design Studio, Project 2

Over the next few weeks, our task is to choose one of the challenging topics that fall under the theme of ‘technology’ — as the focus of our project. Once we have selected a topic, we begin writing a series of short statements that explain what it means and how it works. Next, we arrange the statements in an order that conveys a clear and cohesive story. We’ll review your linear stories in a few weeks so that when we begin working on the project in earnest we’re ready to explore how we will use visual, temporal, and aural channels to effectively move your audience from an abstract to concrete understanding of the topic.

Nano means very small. It has its origins in the greek word “nanos”, meaning dwarf. In a more quantifiable description, nano translates to one billionth. For example, a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. While Nanoscience is defined as the study of all phenomenon that occur on the nanometer scale, Nanotechnology can be understood to be the study of materials or particles that range between the atomic and molecular scale, i.e, their size is less than 100nm. The term nanotechnology was first coined by Japanese scientist called Norio Taniguchi of the Tokyo University of Science in 1974. His definition was, “’Nano-technology’ mainly consists of the processing of, separation, consolidation, and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule.”

From the mid-1980s on progress in nanometer-scale science and technology exploded, and the term nanotechnology was appropriated by researchers, media, businesses, and funding agencies to refer to any technology in which control of the structure of matter on a scale of nanometers to tens of nanometers to hundreds of nanometers in at least one dimension. Today we hear about nanowires, nanotubes, nanodots and nanoscales as common terminology in the scientific field.

Source

Nanotechnology is a group of emerging technologies in which the structure of matter is controlled at the nanometer scale to produce new materials and devices that have useful and unique properties. Some of these technologies impose only limited control of structure at the nanometer scale, but they are already in use, producing useful products. They are also being further developed to produce even more sophisticated products in which the structure of matter is more precisely controlled.

The design, characterization, production, and application of structures, devices, and systems by controlled manipulation of size and shape at the nanometer scale (atomic, molecular, and macromolecular scale) that produces structures, devices, and systems with at least one novel/superior characteristic or property.
Source

10–06-2016 : Re-scripting

How can we explain Nanotechnology to someone who has never heard of it before? Expanding on the brief write-up that I had posted above, I looked onto how I can create a simplified script for explaining nanotechnology. I started with writing down my objectives for the flow of the script.

  • Breakdown on the meaning of terms “nano” and technology.
  • Giving a visual hierarchy on the scale at which nanotechnology is intercepted. (In reference with examples)
  • Explaining a strong example of where nanotechnology has been used. (Can be related to healthcare or solar power systems)
  • Giving the viewer a brief on the future of nanotechnology.

Feedback on objectives:

  • Need to include description of how it works. How does technology play with “nano” materials or “nano” scale.
  • What is the importance of nanotechnology? Why did we need to understand materials at nanoscale and what can we do with it?
  • When giving examples on nanotechnology, try not to get too abstract or complex. Try to give an example which ties in the technology use on nano scale/ nano materials.
  • When looking at the actors involved with your script, try to tie in relations as a flow.

10–10–2016

There’s an unprecedented multidisciplinary convergence of scientists dedicated to the study of a world so small, we can’t see it. Nano means very small. It has its origins in the greek word “nanos”, meaning dwarf. In order to understand the unusual world of nanotechnology, we need to get an idea of the units of measure involved. Nano translates to one billionth. For example, a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. It is smaller than the wavelength of visible light and a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.

As small as a nanometer is, it’s still large compared to the atomic scale. An atom has a diameter of about 0.1 nm. Atoms are the building blocks for all matter in our universe. You and everything around you are made of atoms. Nature has perfected the science of manufacturing matter molecularly. For instance, our bodies are assembled in a specific manner from millions of living cells. Cells are nature’s nano-machines. At the atomic scale, elements are at their most basic level. On the nanoscale, we can potentially put these atoms together to make almost anything.

So what does this all mean? Right now, it means that scientists are experimenting with substances at the nanoscale to learn about their properties and how we might be able to take advantage of them in various applications. Engineers are trying to use nano-size wires to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors. Doctors are searching for ways to use nanoparticles in medical applications. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before nanotechnology dominates the technology and medical markets.

Clothing — Scientists are using nanoparticles to enhance your clothing. By coating fabrics with a thin layer of zinc oxide nanoparticles, manufacturers can create clothes that give better protection from UV radiation. Some clothes have nanoparticles in the form of little hairs or whiskers that help repel water and other materials, making the clothing stain-resistant.

Script 2.0

There’s an unprecedented multidisciplinary convergence of scientists dedicated to the study of the world so small, we can’t see it. Nano means very, very small. Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary science that looks at how we can manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic level. To do this, we must work on the nanoscale. In fact, one nanometer is just one-billionth of a meter in size. Atoms are smaller still. It’s difficult to quantify an atom’s size — they don’t tend to hold a particular shape. But in general, a typical atom is about one-tenth of a nanometer in diameter. It is smaller than the wavelength of visible light and a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.
So what does this all mean? Right now, it means that scientists are experimenting with substances at the nanoscale to learn about their properties and how we might be able to take advantage of them in various applications. Much of what people talk about doing with nanotechnology lies in the future. However, you can find many examples of nanotechnology making a difference today.By manipulating molecules, we can make all sorts of interesting materials.
Take a piece of gold for instance. We have been using gold to make jewelry and coins since thousand of years. We have been doing this because gold is inert — it doesn’t react to oxygen in the atmosphere, and therefore stays nice and shiny. But recently scientists have been using tiny amounts of gold in technology. When you zoom into the nanoscale of gold, its size equivalent to that of a common cold virus, it gets really interesting. Gold nanoparticles of slightly different sizes absorb slightly different wavelengths of light so by gathering together different sizes of nanoparticles it should be possible to make solar cells that can absorb more sunlight. Scientists are working on this is one way to enhance the efficiency of solar cells. In fact, tiny pieces of gold turn out to be good catalysts. For example clusters of just 10 or so atoms convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. 
Nanotechnologists can choose a particle size not just for gold, but for any material. This allows them to test, fine-tune and retest nanoparticle properties, in the search for new solutions to a whole range of problems. Engineers are trying to use nano-size wires to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors. Doctors are searching for ways to use nanoparticles in medical applications. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before nanotechnology dominates the technology and medical markets. The future of nanotechnology is exciting, and the possibilities are endless.

Script 3.0

Think of the smallest thing you have ever seen. You might have thought of a marble, an ant, or even an eyelash. Now think even smaller, down to the the very particles that make these objects. These are called atoms. Atoms exist at the nano scale. An atom is 0.1 nanometer big, which means it actually is one billionth the size of a tennis ball. How differently the atoms are arranged in an object, can effect the properties of that object. Imagine if we could rearrange the atoms in this tennis ball to make its surface stronger and resistant to wear and tear. It could then last a thousand of tennis games or even survive that constant gnawing by your dog! Making products like these possible is studied under Nanotechnology. Scientists try to control the structures of matter at the nanometer scale to produce new materials and devices and also how we might be able to take advantage of them in various applications. So how can nanotechnology bring about a significant change to human life?

Nanoparticles can contribute to stronger, lighter, cleaner and “smarter” surfaces and system. Ever used a water filter before? Water filters use net meshes that filter your drinking water and remove dust and dirt particles. However, many bacteria and viruses are 20 to 25 nm in size and still make their way into our drinking water supply. Scientists are working on creating nano-membranes to filter contaminants from water that are only 15–20 nanometers wide can remove nano-sized particles, including virtually all viruses and bacteria. This technology is being used in filter systems as small as a water bottle, to create safe drinking water, virtually anywhere.

These are just one of the many ways in which nanotechnology is working itself into our everyday lives. There are new discoveries in nanotechnology that are being used in medicine, computer technology, environmental science and agriculture. Soon, our future will be one where every object you use has been advanced with the help of nanotechnology.

Script 4.0

Can you think of the smallest object you have ever seen? Now think even smaller, down to the very particles that make these objects. These are called atoms. Atoms exist at the nano scale and are invisible to the human eye. An atom measures 0.1 nanometers, which means it actually is one billionth the size of the tennis ball. How the atoms are arranged in an object, can affect the properties of that object. Imagine if we could rearrange the atoms in the tennis ball to make its surface stronger and resistant to wear and tear. It could then last a thousand tennis games. Nanotechnology is the science that tries to control the structures of matter at the nanomenter scale to produce new materials and devices that can be used in various applications. So how can nanotechnology bring about a significant change to our lives?

Nanoparticles can contribute to stronger, lighter, cleaner and “smarter” surfaces and system. Ever use a water filter before? Water filters use net meshes that filter our drinking water and remove dust and dirt particles. However, many bacteria and viruses are 20 to 25 nm in size and still make their way into our drinking water supply. Scientists are working on creating nano-membranes to filter contaminants from water that are only 15–20 nanometers wide can remove nano-sized particles, including virtually all viruses and bacteria. This technology is being used in filter systems as small as a water bottle, to create safe drinking water, virtually anywhere.

These are just one of the many ways in which nanotechnology is working itself into our everyday lives. There are new discoveries in nanotechnology that are being used in medicine, computer technology, environmental science and agriculture. Soon, our future will be one where every object we use has been advanced with the help of nanotechnology.

Audio record of script

Visual Inspirations

Initial Storyboarding

Digital storyboard exploration
Animation experiments in After Effects. Copyright Manjari Sahu
First draft of the animation

Re-scripting

Can you think of the smallest object you have ever seen? Now think even smaller, down to the very particles that make these objects. These are called atoms. Atoms exist at the nano scale. An atom measures 0.1nm. Which means it actually is one billionth the size of this tennis ball. The structure of the atoms, determine the properties of this tennis ball. Imagine if we could rearrange these atoms in a way that makes the surface of this tennis ball stronger. It could then last a thousand tennis games.

This is possible through the practice of nanotechnology. NanoScientists try to control the structures of matter to produce new improved materials that can be used in various applications. Nanotechnology is currently being used in improving healthcare systems, sustaining wind energy resources, enhancing human DNA, and even in advancing solar energy.

In fact, nanotechnology has already brought about changes in the science of solar cells. Solar panels absorb sunlight to create renewable energy. However, solar panels lose out on energy by reflecting back the wavelengths of sunlight that are too small for it to absorb. Scientists discovered that slightly different sizes of gold nanoparticles absorb different wavelengths of light. By placing together different gold nanoparticles in solar cells, they increased the energy output substantially, making solar energy more efficient.

This is just one of the many ways in which nanotechnology is changing our world, making our future lives smarter and more sustainable. Soon, our future will be one where Nanotechnology has advanced to create “smarter” materials throughout the world.

Draft Video

Making Abstract Concrete : Nanotechnology