Tools & Technology

The Nanoscale

You’ve heard the hype—but what’s nanotechnology really all about?

Episode 13 | March 7, 2008

Episode 13: The Nanoscale by Distillations Podcast

You’ve heard the hype—but what’s nanotechnology really all about? Today’s show is an investigation into the current reality and the future potential of nanotechnology. In an interview with CHF’s Chi Chan, Harvard University chemist George Whitesides explains how nanofabrication works, what it has to do with chemistry, and what new developments we should expect to see in the next five years. In our Mystery Solved! segment, Jennifer Dionisio uncovers the tiny secret behind the legendary sharpness of Damascus steel. The Element of the Week: Carbon.

Show Clock

00:00  Opening Credits
00:31  Introduction
01:32  Element of the Week: Carbon
03:08  Conversation with George Whitesides
07:51  Mystery Solved! Damascus Steel
10:49  Quote: Richard Smalley
11:08  Closing Credits

Resources and References

Nano basics: National Nanotechnology Initiative.

For more on nanoresearch at Harvard: The Center for Nanoscale Systems.

On Damascus steel: Reibold, M., A. A. Levin, W. Kochmann, N. Pätzke, and D. C. Meyer, “Materials: Carbon Nanotubes in an Ancient Damascus Sabre,” Nature 444 (2006): 286.

And just for fun, an odd nanoachievement: The darkest thing ever made.


Special thanks to Chi Chan for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music was provided from the Podsafe Music Network. The music for the transition out of the Element of the Week is Sand Swallows Earth, by Spring Clock Wonder. We used Ozone Chamber (Chemical Mix), by Fledglyng, under the show ID. The music at the beginning of Mystery Solved is Keblah—Architectural Mix, by Riad Abdel-Gawad. The music for the quotation is La Circiuma de la Drum, by Romashka.

This week’s image of nanocrystals is copyright Felice Frankel. You can see more like it in her book, written with George Whitesides, On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science (Harvard University Press, 2008).