'Nanobamas' fuse art, science, technology and politics

November 14, 2008
'Nanobamas' fuse art, science, technology and politics

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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.

Provided by University of Michigan

Explore further: Intricate, curving 3-D nanostructures created using capillary action forces

Related Stories

Nanotube forests drink water from arid air

June 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —If you don't want to die of thirst in the desert, be like the beetle. Or have a nanotube cup handy. New research by scientists at Rice University demonstrated that forests of carbon nanotubes can be made to ...

A greener way to grow carbon nanotubes

November 10, 2010

Given their size, strength and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes — tiny, hollow cylinders made of carbon atoms — hold promise for a range of applications in electronics, medicine and other fields. Despite ...

A new way to make microstructured surfaces

July 30, 2014

A team of researchers has created a new way of manufacturing microstructured surfaces that have novel three-dimensional textures. These surfaces, made by self-assembly of carbon nanotubes, could exhibit a variety of useful ...

Recommended for you

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 25, 2008
Why must science and technology be connected to art, politics or entertainment to be of any interest to people? Why can't science and tech get enough funding on their own, why is the populace so dumbed down to realize the facts?

I just wish science and tech would get more funding... roughly 40 years ago we landed on the moon, and now look at us...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.