What did one ion say to the other ion?

I’ve got my ion you!

Look how cute this science fabric pattern design is! I would totally use a pattern like this to make a pillowcase, and a bag, and a shirt, and a scarf, and a book cover… Check it out here! http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/2953010

Speaking of fabric and science, we’ve recently had to investigate the chemistry of common materials for our Photography Project! Ever wonder what fabric is made out of? What makes one fabric soft and another rough, what makes one shirts color pop like it’s hot and another absorb stains like it’s… not?

Why don’t you check out Project Cotton by the University of Missouri?

“The chemical composition of cotton fiber consists of ninety-five percent cellulose, one point three percent protein, one point two percent ash, point six percent wax, point three percent sugar, and .8 percent organic acids, and other chemical compounds that make up three point one percent (Wakelyn pg. 15). The non-cellulose chemicals of cotton are usually located in the cuticle of the fiber.”

I know, very cool. Cotton is plant based while other fabrics, like wool for example, are animal products. Still other fabrics are synthetic like polyester and nylon. This means that dying and staining clothes made of different materials can have very different results!

Polyester is actually made up of a lot of polymers. Check out this diagram from this page: http://www.chemguide.co.uk/organicprops/esters/polyesters.html

The same kind of stuff that makes up the water bottle you’re drinking from can be making up your clothing right now! Crazy stuff.

Textile chemistry is actually a really cool and special discipline. Look into it if you like fabrics and science!



Thinnest Material EVER.

Today Science Daily published an article entitled, “Water Glides Freely Across ‘Nanodrapes’ Made from the World’s Thinnest Material

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed drapes made from the thinnest material known to science: graphene.

These nanodrapes are less than a nanometer thick… and you call your milkshake skinny.

Professor Nikhil Koratkar demonstrated how droplets of water glide across a surface covered with a nanodrape with significantly less friction.

“Graphene nanodrapes are the thinnest, most sheer drapes we can imagine. Other than providing a barrier against water, these drapes are optically transparent and cause minimal changes to the topology of the underlying surface,” said Koratkar, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer.

Scientists create these nanodrapes by growing graphene on top of a copper substrate. They coat the graphene with polymer, etching away the copper with weak acids, leaving the graphine film underneath the polymer layer floating on top of the liquid acids. The polymer layer is later washed away with acetone, leaving an impermeable graphene drape that is a single-carbon-atom thick.

Can you imagine holding a sheet that is a single carbon atom thick? Would you even be able to tell that it was between your fingers?

This innovation could potentially benefit lab-on-chip devices, self-cleaning surfaces, and other applications requiring the motion of liquid drops on solid surfaces. Taking those potential uses into account, should I feel terrible for thinking that these nanodrapes would take that plastic-wrapped-toilet-seat prank to a whole different level?!

Just imagine it! Hilarious.

I wonder what they’ll come up with yet? What uses would you have for ultrasheer, ultra thin material like graphene nanodrapes?



No, really.

Recently, an article was posted on Science Daily by Bill Kisliuk (in case you can’t see the pretty blue hyperlinkery, you can click here to see the article) entitled, “Smartphone ‘Microscope’ Can Detect a Single Virus, Nanoparticles”.

Mr. Aydogan Ozcan and his team at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have invented a portable smartphone attachment that, weighing half a pound, “can be used to perform sophisticated field testing to detect viruses and bacteria without the need for bulky and expensive microscopes and lab equipment.” (Kisliuk)

Now, I already think it’s awesome that you can use macro, fish-eye, and other mini-lenses on your iPhone camera to create professional cellphone photos. Yes, professional cellphone photos. Is that an oxymoron?


This blows my mind. To think that some time ago, only the privileged were studying photography, that the first digital camera weighed 8 pounds and took 0.1 megapixel pictures.
Now we can see bacteria with our cellphones.

“This cellphone-based imaging platform could be used for specific and sensitive detection of sub-wavelength objects, including bacteria and viruses and therefore could enable the practice of nanotechnology and biomedical testing in field settings and even in remote and resource-limited environments,” Ozcan said.

I think this is awesome for chemistry because not only can chemists have easy access to an adequate microscope, but if strong and accessible microscopes become available for the common person, anyone can examine the atomic structure of their breakfast or the chemical makeup of their nail polish. Now, just imagine a social network for scientific discovery! Publishing findings would be as easy as an Instagram post!

I imagine that in the future we all will be relinquished of the need to use all but one tech-device. A phone, a quality camera, an ebook reader, all the necessary commodities of a personal computer, and even (with or without attachment) a microscope, carried by the common American and an essential object.
What with Paypal and Google Wallet, perhaps we will even lose contact with paper money. What an idea!

However, that is likely far enough in the future that I’ll be asking my children for help with such a device.
For now, I’ll imagine how the enthusiastic scientist might whip out his or her microscope-iPhone to examine his coffee for hazardous nano particles. I know I’d have way too much fun with a pocket-sized microscope. What would you use it for? What else would you want to see made smartphone-ified?