Nano technology used for dye-sensitized solar cell  
Liquid crystals – trucks on an interstate


Nano technology used for dye-sensitized solar cell  
Liquid crystals – trucks on an interstate

A project


The scene examines an interstate related traffic. There is a presence of geometrical shapes and rhythms. Geometrical forms one can find as the loads on the heavy trucks, such as pipes, mobile houses, cones formed by sugar beets, bales of hay, big boxes, and more forms carried on tracks are shown.

Those geometrical shapes can be discerned on the fields, horizontal shapes created by the roads, and vertical rhythms created by the poles of power lines. It depicts the interstate highway from a driver’s perspective with a network of highway crossings and exits that to many looks like spaghetti in a bowl when viewed from overhead, also known as a spaghetti junction or a spaghetti bowl.

Liquid crystal rods are represented as trucks. Various trucks with loads may be seen similar to the kinds of liquid crystals. Trucks, often looking similar, yet perform various tasks and services. They are organized according to a scheme you created. The road signs show why a particular track is turning on a certain exit, for example, they may have symbols for the smectic, nematic, and cholesteric arrangement of the loads carried on tracks depending on their alignment in the same direction, in layers or planes, or in columns.

Following the organization of the road, some analogies are present to some concepts explained below.
A scene showing the truck drivers is presented in a row of windows at the inn usually visited by truckers; show various actions of truckers residing at the inn or at the adjacent area.
The truck drivers are:
Eating a mayonnaise (liquid in liquid),
Drinking beer (gas in liquid),
Eating ice cream (gas in solid),
Writing checks with ink (solid in liquid) to pay for their mayonnaise, and then
Taking a bath with a sponge (gas in solid) and
Making soap bubbles (gas in liquid): two drivers are making soap bubbles in front of the hotel. Soap bubbles, which change colors when light is reflected through the bubble walls, are made of liquid crystals. First, a wall of a small bubble is a few nanometers thick and reflects the full spectrum of colors in a rainbow. However, part of light reflects from the outer surface of a bubble wall, and part is reflected from its inner surface. When the two waves interfere and reinforce each other we see color. When the bubble wall gets thinner, a distance between wall surfaces becomes smaller, the reflected waves of light start to cancel each other out, and the bubble loses its color (Bubbles, 2011). 

Soft condensed matter is in a state neither liquid nor crystalline. When we look at things in the nano scale we can group a great amount of everyday matter as soft matter including food, soap, ink, paint, cosmetics, putty, gels, biological tissues, cells and a cytoplasm, biological membranes, microfilaments and filamentous networks (e.g., a cytoskeleton present in all cells), molecular mono-layers, polymers and biopolymers (such as DNA or filaments in neuronal or muscle fibers), and also liquid crystals. We can be called soft matter, as well.

Colloids. A great part of matter has colloidal properties. We can see it by examining it in the nanoscale. In colloidal systems one micrometer or less particles form a colloidal suspension (Smalyukh, 2010).
– Solid in liquid, as in an Indian ink
­– Liquid in liquid, an emulsion of liquid in liquid as in mayonnaise
­– Gas in liquid, foam of gas in liquid – as in beer or soap foam.
– There could be also gas in solid, like in a bath sponge or ice cream.

If we succeed to cut familiar materials and reduce them to a nanoscale size they would develop odd properties. For example, aluminum foil, which would normally behave like aluminum, would explode when cut in strips 20 to 30 nanometers thick.

Soft materials have chemical and mechanical characteristics, so they are used in many applications for example, in flat panel LCD TVs. Their atomic structure causes some quantum size effects, responsiveness to small electrical fields, to chemical or thermal actions, and their flexibility. However, there is growing concern about nanotoxicology and ecotoxicology, the study of toxicity of nanomaterials that intended to determine a threat to the humans and environment.

Carbon nanotubes. Inorganic carbon, DNA, and parts of cell membranes contain structures such as fullerenes and nanotubes. They are subject of nanotechnologies, for example molecular electronics, nanolithography, or nanorobotics. Carbon as a chemical element has different structural forms; three of them are common: diamond (whose atoms make a lattice of triangular pyramids), graphite (a lattice of forms with six straight sides and angles), and fullerenes (with atoms bonded in a form of an empty sphere, ellipsoid or tube). A nanotech pioneer Richard Smalley (Smalley-resources, 2011) discovered a molecule made of 60 carbon atoms, which he called a buckminsterfullerene or a buckyball because it resembled geodesic domes created by Richard Buckminster Fuller. Carbon nanotubes are cylindrical fullerenes, usually a few nanometers wide (tens of thousands times smaller than the diameter of human hair) but they may be micrometers up to centimeters long. Smalley envisioned a power grid of nanotubes that would distribute electricity from solar farms. He believed nanoscale missiles would target cancer cells in human body. He spoke this on June 1999 but he died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on October 2005.

Thin nanotube sheets are 250 times stronger than steel and 10 times lighter. Their mechanical tensile strength, high electrical and heat conductivity, and chemical inactivity makes them useful in nanotechnology, electronics, optics, material and architectural science domains, and many other applications, such as for strengthening materials, gluing, coating transparent conductive display films, building artificial muscles (Aliev et al., 2009), space elevators, a body armor (ISN, 2010), waterproof and tear-resistant textiles (Dalton et al., 2003), non-cracking concrete, and a lot of other implementations.


 Ursus Wehrli‘s work might be an interesting concept to look at when thinking about the topic in relation to art, photography and the boundaries between concepts under discussion:


In order to discuss liquid crystals, we need to enter discuss a notion of a Nano scale.  
– A macro-scale comprises visible objects with sizes of a millimeter or more
(1 mm = 1/1,000 meter – 1x10-3 m)
– A micro-scale relates to objects with sizes about a micrometer
(1 µm = 1/1,000,000, one millionth of a meter – 1x10-6 m) to about 1/10 of a millimeter
– A Nano-scale encompasses a range of subjects with sizes from about a nanometer
(1 nm = 1/1,000,000,000, one billionth of meter – 1x10-9 m) to about 1/10 of micrometer
– A pico-scale is a size range of single atoms, both found in nature (and represented in the periodic table) and atoms man-made in accelerators for nuclear technology.
(1 ångström or angstrom (symbol Å) = 1 x 10-10 meters).

One Nano is 10-9 meter; that means one-billionth of a meter. That’s like comparing the size of a marble to the size of Earth. Many familiar objects are millions of nanometers big: a human nail on a little finger is about ten million nanometers across, and a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide. A dollar bill is 100,000 nanometers thick. A small reptile gecko can cling upside down to the pane of glass because it has millions of microhairs on its toes; each hair is split into hundreds of tips 200 nanometers wide that mean it has nanohairs on its microhairs.

The developments in nanoscale and molecular-scale technologies let us study the Nano scale objects: liquid crystals, soft matter, Nano shells, and carbon nanotubes. We learned about structures and actions going in the nanoscale and how can we use nanoparticles and nanotechnology. These technologies make a background for progress in energy conservation in micro and Nano scale. Nanoparticles can be made “top down” by chopping a bulk material into nanosize bits or “bottom up” by growing molecules like crystals in controlled conditions. Nanoshells, nanoparticles covered with metal, e.g., gold nanoshells are used for biomedical imaging and serve therapeutic applications. For example, gold nanoshells act as a Trojan horse when they enter a tumor cell in a macrophage and cause a photo-induced tumor cell death. Nanoceramic filters allow water purification pushing water through nanotubes or a 10-9 m to 10-11 m membranes. 

Liquid crystals (LC) are usually described as a state of matter with properties placing them between a liquid and a solid crystal phases. For instance, liquid crystals change shape like a liquid, but its molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. LC are usually structured as rods oriented along a common axis. As dipoles, liquid crystals have positive and negative charges separated, so they respond to electric and magnetic fields. Rods are not so ordered as in crystalline matter, but also not isotropic (without orientation) as liquids. Depending on the amount of order, liquid crystal materials have the hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) parts. Some (that are intermediate between solids and liquids) are thermotropic. Thermotropic LCs are further classified into smectic, nematic, and cholesteric (also known as chiral nematic liquid crystals). LCs called nematic are aligned in the same direction but have no positional order; those called smectic also have general orientation but in addition are aligned in layers or planes or stacked columns of disks; cholesteric LCs (not identical to its mirror image) have nematic phases and columnar phases, with stacked columns of disks.





Aliev, A. E., Oh, J., Kozlov, M. E., Kuznetsov, A. A., Fang, S., Fonseca, A. F., Ovalle, R., Lima, M. D., Haque, M. H., Gartstein, Y. N., Zhang, M., Zakhidov, A. A., & Baughman, R. H. (2009). Giant-Stroke, Superelastic Carbon Nanotube Aerogel Muscles, Science 323(5921), 1575-1578, 20 March 2009, DOI: 10.1126/science.1168312.

Bubbles (2011). Retrieved February 1, 2011, from

Dalton, A. B., Collins, S., Muñoz, E., Razal, J. M., Von Ebron, H., Ferraris, J. P., Coleman, J. N., Kim, B. G., & Baughman, R. H. (2003). Super-tough carbon-nanotube fibres. Nature 423, 703 (12 June 2003). doi:10.1038/423703a 

ISN (2010), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. Retrieved December 11, 2010, from

Smalley, R. (2011). Resources about. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from

Smalyukh, I. I. (2010). Intro to Soft Condensed Matter Physics. Retrieved December 10, 2010, from