Nanohacking Workshop

Organised by Biofilia course for secondary school students, the 4 day workshop in Dec.2013 explored nano scale through accessible devices. 

Here’s some water droplets floating on a sheet of paper, sprayed with some kind of car cleaner or lock opener.

nano drops

Dr. Marc R. Dusseiller, a researcher and a nano enthusiast, talked to us about the variety of nano scale particles’ applications, from making cheese to organ replacement. His own approach is simple, and he strives not just for Do It Yourself, but for Do It With Others and believes that knowledge should be accessible.  He fits his nanohacking lab in a box, and travels around the world to teach kids about the beauty of science.

Here we made a nano microscope out of a phone camera and a lens borrowed from a laser pointer. Single pixels on a phone screen (which are nano size) are visible through it.

camera phone 1 camera phone 2


The concepts that seeded nanotechnology were first discussed in 1959 by renowned physicist Richard Feynman in his talk There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, in which he described the possibility of synthesis via direct manipulation of atoms. The term “nano-technology” was first used by Norio Taniguchi in 1974, though it was not widely known.

Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Here’s some nail varnish on a water surfaces. The layer is only a few nanometers thick.

single layer of nail varnish

One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10−9, of a meter.To put that scale in another context, the comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth. Or another way of putting it: a nanometer is the amount an average man’s beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face. (Thank you wikipedia for this lovely information).

You can see it with an electronic microscope. Some everyday things, however, are made up of only a few layers of nano particles and can produce interesting images if looked at under a light microscope.With some of the experiments, I wasn’t sure how exactly it is related to nano technology, but it was fun to play with anyway.

We made circuit boards by exposing bit of wired plastic prepared before hand to light, soaking them in some kind of solution, and wiring them to a speaker and a light bulb. If you rub the board with the your fingers, the speaker makes sounds.

board 1 board ready IMGP3002

We constructed a mini projector/microscope to look at contents of a water drop, containing some small organisms.

laser box 1

Hanging a plastic chrystal in front of it added some drama.

laser box 2PS: I really really want this book Molecular Aesthetics  which sounds like a great contemporary researcher merging art and science.It really seems like something where art is heading.


PPS : Check out this guy who desings working, helping, medical devices

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