Thursday, August 15, 2013

Science as art: beautiful world under the microscope

By Mike Fricano 

This beautiful image is not an artsy photo of a pink flower. It’s a picture of an electrically conductive molecule captured with a scanning electron microscope.

This image, titled "Tetraaniline in Full Bloom," won first place in the Materials Research Society’s "Science as Art" competition this spring for Yue Wang, a member of Ric Kaner's lab and former IGERT fellow. In addition to being beautiful, this molecule has potential for sensors and organic supercapacitors because of its shape and electrical conductivity. The "flower" in the upper right is actually aggregated sheets of doped aniline oligomers and the black and white leaves are flexible sheets.

Who knew the microscopic world could be so spectacular?

Source: UCLA Newsroom

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Octopus Mandala Glow set to light up famous Pacific Wheel

Victoria Vesna’s artwork will premiere at Santa Monica’s Glow Festival on September 28th 

Victoria Vesna, a professor in UCLA’s department of Design|Media Arts and director of the Art|Sci center at the California NanoSystems Institute, is a world-renowned artist who frequently collaborates with nanoscientists to unite the worlds of art and science. Her latest project, Octopus Mandala Glow (OMG), is part of a worldwide movement to encourage people to occupy their Ferris wheels, with a vision of creating a global chorus and spreading joy. For more info about OMG, please check out the project’s website:

Join the OMG movement now by donating the symbolic minimum of $8! Then pass it on to 8 friends. Your help will not only make this global project possible, but will also have you directly participating in the creation of the Octopus Mandala. We want to collect “Om’s” from the peaks of wheels all over the world—people of all religions, languages, and with different “views.” To donate, go to:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nanoscientists work with orthopaedic surgeons to advance studies of knee injuries

This was an invitation we couldn't pass up.

Dr. Keith Markolf and Dr. Dan Boguszewski from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UCLA invited us to their laboratory to learn about their studies of knee injury mechanisms. An enormous robot--typically used for spot welding in car manufacturing plants--had been repurposed to grasp the bones connected to a cadaver knee and apply pressures on them, mimicking what would happen during a fall on the basketball court or during a gymnastics performance.

The bright orange robot applied 200 Newtons of force (45 lbs.) to the tibia (one of the shin bones) while shifting the bone forward and backward 250 times to look at how the joint was dislocated as a result of a torn ACL. These studies are helpful, but the doctors want to understand better how the bones are grinding together and pressing down on one another. To do this, they asked CNSI nanoscientists if they knew of coatings that could be applied onto the bones like paint before the mechanical forces were applied. Then, looking at how the paint material wore away or responded to the pressure, the doctors could pinpoint exactly where the pressure and grinding was being applied.  This would help inform surgeons about how to improve the success of surgical knee procedures to prevent orthopaedic arthritis and the need for full knee replacements.

The work is still in the early planning stages, but some of the materials being investigated include alginate or hyaluronic coatings, lyposomes embedded with fluorescent dyes, or nanodiamond coatings.