Chemist’s nanofiber designs are no mere carbon copies


Terry Devitt meant it as a joke. The director of research communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had asked UW chemistry professor Robert Hamers if he could make the school’s mascot, Bucky Badger, out of carbon nanofibers. He meant it in a tongue-in-cheek, finger-in-the-ribs sort of way.

So Devitt was a little surprised when, a few weeks later, Hamers presented him with exactly what he had asked for: a Bucky Badger created by patterning vertically aligned carbon nanofibers, each about 50 to 75 nanometers in diameter.

Image courtesy of S.E. Baker, K-Y. Tse, M. Marcus, Jeremy Streifer, and Robert J. Hamers.
Click here to enlarge image

Having seen what Hamers could do, Devitt wasn’t surprised at the Small Times logo shown here - though I was. It was a parting gift I received at the end of a fellowship program that Devitt, Hamers and a diverse crew of faculty and staff produced in March for the education and edification of more than a dozen professional journalists.

The two-day program featured lectures and presentations by faculty about nanomaterials research and nanoscale processing. It also included discussions about the social and environmental aspects of nanotechnology, as well as a visit to a local nanotech startup.

Image courtesy of Hamers Research Group, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Click here to enlarge image

Hardly all talk, the program had participants in the lab working with nanoparticles, trying out an atomic force microscope, and building thermometers out of liquid crystals, to name just a few adventures.

The intent was to help reporters better understand nanoscience and nanotechnology in order to be able to more effectively report on their ongoing development as well as their social ramifications. To my mind at least, a great idea that was very well executed - as is our new carbon nanofiber logo. - David Forman