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3D 'Nanobamas' Smaller Than A Grain Of Salt

Date:
November 16, 2008
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
A professor has created 3-D portraits of the president-elect that are smaller than a grain of salt. He calls them "nanobamas."
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Microscopic faces of Barack Obama made using nanotechnology, and imaged using a scanning electron microscope. Each face consists of millions of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, grown by a high temperature chemical reaction.
Credit: A. John Hart

A University of Michigan professor has created 3-D portraits of the president-elect that are smaller than a grain of salt. He calls them "nanobamas."

John Hart, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, made the mini-Barack Obama likenesses with his colleagues to raise awareness of nanotechnology and science.

Each one contains about 150 million carbon nanotubes stacked vertically like trees in a forest. A carbon nanotube is an extraordinarily strong hollow cylinder about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair.

"Developments like this are an excellent way to bring the concepts of nanotechnology to a broader audience," said Hart, who made the portraits with his colleagues by working late on a Friday evening. "Also, we thought it would be fun."

Carbon nanotubes could be used in solar cells and batteries, new methods of diagnosing and treating disease, next-generation computer processors and memory, and stronger lightweight materials. Hart's Mechanosynthesis Group focuses on studying how to make nanostructures like nanotubes, and how to use these small-scale building blocks in electronics, energy devices and high-performance materials.

To create the nanobamas, the researchers converted Shepard Fairey's famous red, white and blue poster of Barack Obama to a line drawing. They shrunk it and printed it on a glass plate with a laser to create a mask. They shined ultraviolet light through the masked glass plate on to a silicon wafer to create the pattern. Then they grew the carbon nanotubes on the pattern, using a high-temperature chemical reaction.

The researchers photographed the nanobamas with an electron microscope. The faces are half a millimeter in size.

Nanobama is Hart's latest artwork too small for the naked eye to see. His complete gallery is at nanobliss.com, a site he started in 2006, inspired by the beauty in the structures he was building for his dissertation. Hart has used this technique to make Michigan logos, snowflakes and a mock Absolut Nano ad that shows nanotubes grown in the shape of a vodka bottle.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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University of Michigan. "3D 'Nanobamas' Smaller Than A Grain Of Salt." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081114200628.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2008, November 16). 3D 'Nanobamas' Smaller Than A Grain Of Salt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081114200628.htm
University of Michigan. "3D 'Nanobamas' Smaller Than A Grain Of Salt." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081114200628.htm (accessed August 29, 2015).

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