Nanotechnology holds a great deal of promise for a number of uses, but a perhaps less expected one is art.
Recently the Materials Research Society held its "Science As Art" competition in which entrants are challenged to make their own artistic creations from nanoscale materials. The creations are not only striking but also surprisingly diverse.
To begin with, there's "Nano-Flowers," one of the first-place winners. Mulmudi Hemant Kumar of Nanyang Technological University used a hydrothermal method to grow zinc-doped tin oxide objects that look like flowers. Similarly, Yue Wang of the University of California, Los Angeles took an SEM image of a thin-sheet network made of doped aniline oligomers to create the image of a purple flower growing among leaves. The structure is also scientifically useful, with its electrical conductivity granting it potential for sensors and organic supercapacitors.
You can see the images here.
While you're looking, make sure to check out "Freeze" by Yang Hui Ying of Singapore University of Technology and Design. The structure involves organic nanowires with nanoparticle frost coating that make the wires look like frosty pine needles. These nanowires have the potential to be used to make flexible electronic circuits.
The Materials Research Society has hosted the "Science As Art" competition biannually since 2005. The society does so to promote the understanding of the role of visualization in science.
"Visualization methods provide an important tool in materials science for the analysis and presentation of scientific work," the society's website states. "Images can often convey information in a way that tables of data or equations cannot match. Occasionally, scientific images transcend their role as a medium for transmitting information, and contain the aesthetic qualities that transform them into objects of beauty and art."
You can watch a video from the Materials Research Society about some of its favorite nanomaterial images below.