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Posted: April 28, 2008

UW-Madison nano research mixes with art, coffee

(Nanowerk News) In May, 14 striking, larger-than-life photographic prints that are both comfortingly organic and starkly abstract will enable patrons of Mother Fool's Coffeehouse in Madison to visualize a scientific world that's rarely seen outside the laboratory.
"Sights Unseen: Images of the Nanoscale" is an art exhibit featuring research images captured by faculty, staff and students in UW-Madison's National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces and the NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. The exhibit runs throughout May, with an opening reception from 7-9 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, at the coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St.
Nanotechnology is a new area in science and engineering that deals with incredibly small materials. These materials are on the scale of nanometers, a billion of a meter. (A one-gallon can of paint, painted one nanometer thick, would cover the entire UW-Madison campus.)
Materials at this super-small scale can behave in new ways. For example, nanoscale gold is red, and nanoscale aluminum spontaneously combusts. Scientists and engineers hope to use these unique properties in new and improved applications, ranging from faster computers to cancer-fighting medical treatments.
The pictures in the "Sights Unseen" exhibit bring this super-small world into the limelight by showcasing its beauty. Among the images are black-and-white nano-sized rods that look like massive trees toppled by a strong wind, and a computer-generated representation of data that resembles psychedelic posters from the '70s.
Mother Fools Coffeehouse's hours are 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. weekends.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison