22 March, 2017
Director of the MacDiarmid Institute Professor Thomas Nann, Associate Professor Justin Hodgkiss, and Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Renee Goreham give an overview over the MacDiarmid Institute’s research activities.
Ahead of February’s AMN8 conference, Charles Anderson talks to some of the scientists at the vanguard of nanomaterial innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand.
Look closely at the letters on this screen. Zero in on this full stop, right here. It’s small – to the human eye, at least. But that full stop still has billions of atoms within it.
Imagine zooming in on that tiny dot. Very soon you will arrive at a point where you can no longer see it. Keep going. Soon you will arrive at a point where it cannot be viewed through a microscope. Further. You arrive in a world that is only partly visible through the lens of an electron microscope. Keep going and the individual particles that make up that full stop on your screen will change.
There are 10 million nanometres in a centimetre. A sheet of newspaper is 100,000 nanometres thick. If a marble were a nanometre then one metre would be the size of planet Earth. This is a world where materials are so small they are made up of only a handful of atoms as opposed to billions. At that size those materials can take on curious characteristics. They might change colour. Pregnancy tests, for example, use gold nano particles which become suddenly visible as bright red when they come into contact with a certain hormone. Further than that, the material’s melting point might also shift. They might become magnetic. Materials at this size can also become much more reactive – to other chemicals or even electricity...