Tiny Tech Radio Series: Script Archive from WUFT

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(Original Air Date on WUFT)

#1 What is Nanotechnology? (1/6/17) Let’s talk small, really small. The field of nanotechnology is making big advances toward achieving precise control of matter on the nanometer scale. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or about the size of four... [read more]

#2 The Impact of Nanotechnology (1/13/17) We live in a world of change, and the technology that surrounds us is changing especially fast.  One important contributor is something called nanotechnology. Simply stated, nanotechnology is the manufacture of... [read more]

#3 The Single-Electron Transistor (1/27/17) Transistors are everywhere:  in computers, in cell phones, and even in those gimmicky greeting cards that play tunes when they’re opened. One reason transistors are useful is because they can be rapidly... [read more]

#4 Nanoelectromechanical Systems (2/3/17)In the 1966 movie “Fantastic Voyage”, Hollywood star Raquel Welch was part of a surgical team that was placed aboard a submarine, miniaturized to microscopic size, and injected into the bloodstream of a man... [read more]

#5 Gold Nanoparticles: Not Just Tiny! (2/10/17) What would happen if you were to take a gold coin and cut it into two pieces, and then into four, and kept going until you had very tiny pieces consisting of perhaps a thousand gold atoms each?  Well, apart... [read more]

#6 More on Moore's Law (3/3/17) In 1965, the chemist Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on a computer chip would double every two years, due to improvements in technology to make the individual circuit components smaller and smaller... [read more]

#7 Viruses as Nanotechnology (3/10/17) Feeling sick?  Although many illnesses are caused by microorganisms, other diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia are genetic disorders, caused by abnormalities in the DNA of our own chromosomes... [read more]

#8 Carbon Nanotubes (4/21/17) A key ingredient in many products, from pencil leads to tennis racquets, is the chemical substance graphite.  Graphite is a form of carbon in which the atoms bond to one another in sheets that are one atom thick. Just as... [read more]

#9 Green Nanomaterials (5/19/17) The topic is “green nanomaterials.”  Like other nanomaterials, they’re made from nano-sized components, but they are especially friendly to the environment. One important example of a green nanomaterial is... [read more]

#10 Quantum Dots (6/2/17) I don’t know about you, but I get crabby if my shoes are too small for my feet.  Well, electrons don’t get crabby, but they do change properties if they are confined in small spaces.  The small spaces that scientists are using to... [read more]

#11 Scanning Probe Microscopy (6/9/17) What’s the smallest thing you can see?  Well, ordinary microscopes can image things that are about 100 times smaller than a human hair, which actually is still pretty big on the nano scale.  For smaller objects, you... [read more]

#12 Nanostructured Catalysts (6/16/17) If you are in the business of making plastics, or gasoline, or pharmaceuticals, you quickly discover that the chemical reactions to make them are really slow: you can mix the reactants and wait years - and... [read more]

#13 The Feat of Sticky Little Feet (7/14/17): Consider the gecko, a fascinating lizard.  Geckos have the amazing ability to walk upside down even on the undersides of smooth surfaces such as glass.  This ability is due to the millions of tiny flexible hairs on... [read more]

#14 Luminescent Nanomaterials (7/21/17): Feeling energetic?  Well, sometimes molecules end up with excess energy too.  This can happen in several ways, such as when molecules absorb light, are subjected to an electrical current, or undergo a... [read more]

#15 Nanocar Race (7/28/17): How would you like to drive on a racetrack of solid gold or silver? Well, six teams of scientists recently did just that. However, it would take 100 of their racetracks, laid end-to-end, to equal the thickness of a piece of paper, and... [read more]

#16 Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles (8/11/17): The dark “mag-stripe” on your credit card is made of iron-containing particles, each of which is a magnet with a north and south pole.  The information on your card is stored by making magnetic patterns, in... [read more]

#17 TiO2 Nanosheets (9/22/17): In the modern world, titania (also known by its chemical formula, TiO2) can be found in many products.  This is because titania is great at absorbing UV light, making it ideal for use in protective coatings like paint or... [read more]

#18 Nanotechnology and Diabetes (10/13/17): There are many reasons for getting a tattoo:  personal expression, remembrance of a family member, or just for fun. But what if there could be a medical reason for getting a tattoo? People with diabetes must... [read more]

#19 Graphene: Tale of the Tape (2/23/18): Remember when you were a kid, drawing all over your desk with your trusty number 2 pencil and then trying to rub off the black graphite marks with your hands?  Well, if you had tried to clean your blackened fingers... [read more]

#20 Organic Solar Cells (4/6/18): Ever wonder how a solar cell works? When sunlight strikes a solar cell, its energy is transferred to electrons, which jump out of their original locations and move through the solar cell, creating an electrical current... [read more]

#21 The Amazing Spider….Silk (5/7/18): The plastic items we know so well are made of polymers, materials consisting of simple repeating units of particular chemicals. As it turns out, nature is a brilliant polymer chemist... [read more]

#22 Nanowire Barcodes (9/18/18): When I’m at the grocery store, I always seem to be in the slowest checkout line. But…it's faster than it used to be because products come with a barcode on the label... [read more]

#23 Aerogels – Lighter than a Feather (12/5/18): In the movie Back to the Future, George McFly was a little confused when he told his future wife “I am your density.”... [read more]

#24 Nanodiamonds are Forever (1/12/19): Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” sang Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”... [read more]

#25 Photothermal Therapy – Can You Take the Heat? (5/3/19): If the cells in your body get hot, they get a little uncomfortable and don’t work as well. Unlike us, they can’t just drink some ice-cold lemonade to cool off. Your cells can only live near body temperature, and if things get too hot, they die. This is true for normal cells, and also for cancer cells... [read more]

#26 The Incredible Shrinking Gel (5/10/19): Remember that annoying cotton shirt that shrank two sizes after you did your laundry? Well, scientists have recently developed a really clever way to use a similar effect to make tiny three dimensional devices... [read more]

#27 The Nanotechnology of Batteries (7/8/19): Batteries are an amazing technology. Each battery is a little chemical reactor: when power is needed, the chemical reaction proceeds, and electricity is generated. When the chemical reaction ends, the battery is dead. Of all the kinds of batteries, lithium-ion batteries have the greatest energy per unit weight, which is why they are used in such things as laptop computers... [read more]

#28 Nanodentistry (9/26/19): Teeth make eating possible, sharks scary, and smiles pretty. But when you have a cavity, you need to see a dentist. For over 200 years, dentists have been filling cavities with amalgams, which are mixtures of silver, mercury, and other metals. Since the 1970s, however, dentists have increasingly been using a new material called a composite, which is made by adding powdered quartz to a plastic resin... [read more]

#29 The Blue of a Spider (10/11/19): Got the blues? Well, someone who’s really blue - but likes it - is the cobalt blue tarantula. This large spider gets its color not from a pigment, but from tiny structures in its hair, which cause the reflected light to display an effect called interference. The same interference effect causes soap bubbles, opals, and butterfly wings to display many different colors depending on what angle you view them from. What is remarkable about the cobalt blue tarantula is that the color doesn’t change in this way, but stays the same... [read more]

#30 Molecules and the Modern-Day Sherlock Holmes (1/08/20): The 1930s radio version of the great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, often exclaimed “Elementary, my dear Watson!” when he reached an obvious conclusion. What you might not know, is that Sherlock Holmes was an expert chemist, often carrying out chemical experiments as part of his detective work... [read more]

#31 3D Nanoprinting with an Electron Beam Pen (1/15/20): These days, you can use a 3D printer to make almost anything – from a missing part for a broken toy to a prosthetic leg! Zooming down to the nanoscale, scientists are also developing ways of using 3D printing to make very tiny objects... [read more]

#32 Chemical bonding on video (4/07/20): Chemical bonds are small, so small in fact that we can’t see them with the most powerful optical microscopes. That’s because the wavelength of visible light is about 400 times larger than the usual bond length. That’s where electrons come in. Electrons are wave-like particles that are tiny, just like bonds, and can be used instead of light. When the sample is thin enough, electrons travel through the material and are collected on the other side by a detector that produces an image... [read more]

#33 Antibacterial Nanostructures (5/26/20): Looking for a new way to kill germs? Nanotechnology might hold the answer. Bacteria are becoming more resistant to current drugs, making it harder to treat diseases caused by them. There is constant research into making new molecules to fight these more resistant pathogens, however there is always the chance that the bacteria will eventually adjust to new drugs in turn. Nanotechnology offers a different approach and recent advances are starting to bring their use closer to reality... [read more]

#34 Nanotube Recycling of Electronic Waste (9/02/20): Got your cell phone with you? I thought so. Like many other everyday electronic devices we cannot live without, your phone contains tiny amounts of scarce but critical rare earth elements, such as praseodynium and europium. Our seemingly insatiable appetite for the latest electronics means that the current global demand for these elements is far greater than the available supply... [read more]

#35 Nanoparticles in Ancient Art (4/30/21): Nanotechnology is considered an example of the latest in modern science. But you might be surprised to know that one particular kind of nanotechnology has been around for a very long time... [read more]

#36 An Artificial Leaf? (5/21/21): To satisfy our future need for energy, it will be increasingly important to use renewable energy sources, such as sunlight. Plants have been using sunlight as an energy source for millions of years. In a process called photosynthesis, plants use the sun’s energy to make cellulose and other chemicals they need. For several decades, scientists have been studying “artificial leaves” that mimic how plants capture the energy of sunlight... [read more]

#37 Out of the Wood and Into the Light (6/4/21): You can light fires with wood, but how about wood that emits light without burning? Scientists from New Zealand recently took thin sheets of balsa wood and extracted them with a solvent to dissolve away some of the more soluble components. They then filled the holes in the resulting porous, spongy solid with nano-sized luminescent quantum dots and coated the sheets with a silicone material to make the sheets waterproof. Upon exposure to ultraviolet light, the treated wood sheets emit visible light of different colors depending on the nanoparticles used.... [read more]