Nanotechnology: The Power of the Small

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Creation Date March 15th, 2020
Updated Date Updated May 7th, 2020
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  1. In this episode we were joined by Sonia Contera, Professor of Biological Physics at the University of Oxford and the author of Nano Comes to Life: How Nanotechnology Is Transforming Medicine and the Future of Biology. In a wide-ranging conversation with Tom Whipple, the science editor at The Times, she explored the rapidly evolving nanotechnologies that are allowing us to manipulate the very building blocks of life, giving us radical control over our own biology.   See for privacy and opt-out information.
  2. Vantablack is a pigment that reaches a level of darkness that’s so intense, it’s kind of upsetting. It’s so black it’s like looking at a hole cut out of the universe. If it looks unreal because Vantablack isn’t actually a color, it’s a form of nanotechnology. It was created by the tech industry for the tech industry, but this strange dark material would also go on to turn the art world on its head. Their Dark Materials
  3. [spreaker type=player resource="episode_id=18590657" width="100%" height="80px" theme="light" playlist="false" playlist-continuous="false" autoplay="false" live-autoplay="false" chapters-image="true" episode-image-position="right" hide-logo="false" hide-likes="false" hide-comments="false" hide-sharing="false" hide-download="true"] Steve Burgess (@steveburgess01) is the president of Foresight Institute, a nonprofit think tank that researches technologies of importance to the future of humanity, focusing on nanotechnology, cybersecurity, and AI and rewards grants to lead scientists and safety initiatives.
  4. What is a carbon nanotube? What are the properties of carbon nanotubes? What are some of the potential uses of carbon nanotubes? Join Jonathan and Lauren as they break down the basics of nanotubes, along with their potential uses in future applications. Learn more about your ad-choices at
  5. We talk to chemist Joseph Meany about his book Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World.Support the show.
  6. Dr. Christy Haynes is the Elmore H. Northey Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. She completed her undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Macalester College and received her MS and PhD in Chemistry from Northwestern University. Next, Christy was awarded a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award Post-Doctoral Fellowship to conduct research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2005. Christy has received many awards and honors for her research, including the Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award, the Taylor Award for Distinguished Research from the University of Minnesota, the Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecturship, the Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award, the Joseph Black Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Arthur F. Findeis Award for Achievements by a Young Analytical Scientist from the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry, the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry Young Investigator Award, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the NIH New Innovator Award, the NSF CAREER Award, and the Victor K. LaMer Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Science. In addition, Christy has been recognized for her excellence in mentoring through receipt of the Advising and Mentoring Award and the Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor Award both from the University of Minnesota. She has also been listed among the Top 100 Inspiring Women in STEM from Insight into Diversity magazine, the Analytical Scientist's “Top 40 Under 40” Power List, and one of the “Brilliant 10” chosen by Popular Science magazine. Christy is with us today to share stories from her journey through life and science.
  7. What if every home had an early-warning cancer detection system? Researcher Joshua Smith is developing a nanobiotechnology "cancer alarm" that scans for traces of disease in the form of special biomarkers called exosomes. In this forward-thinking talk, he shares his dream for how we might revolutionize cancer detection and, ultimately, save lives.
  8. Unlike robotic systems made even partially from organic materials, entirely artificial electronic systems have use cases in both the human body and a variety of other environments, such as tiny crevices in the earth, chemical reactors, and oil pipelines. In order to reach these places, however, these systems must be tiny—the size of red blood cells, which are not more than ten microns in diameter. Albert Liu is a presidential fellow working in Michael Strano’s lab in the MIT Department of Engineering, and he joins the podcast to discuss their most recent accomplishments: the creation of an entirely artificial robotic system the size of a human red blood cell, and recent publications detailing how these systems can be employed in aerosolizable electronics and soil matrices. He also discusses the most difficult aspects of creating these systems, the insight he’s gained as a graduate student working in this field, the revolutionary potential of these systems in medicine and industry, and the tradeoffs between biological and artificial robotics. Interested in learning more? Stay current on the latest research by visiting, and tune in to hear the full conversation. Mass producing colloidal electronics (with a video): Strano website: Albert website: Nature Nano reference: Nature Materials reference:

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