Dustin W. Carr, under the direction of Professor Harold G. Craighead, created the nano guitar in the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility in 1997. The idea came about as a fun way to illustrate nanotechnology, and it did capture popular attention. It is disputed as to whether the nano guitar should be classified as a guitar, but it is the common opinion that it is in fact a guitar.
Nanotechnology miniaturizes normal objects, in this case a guitar. It can be used to create tiny cameras, scales and listening devices. An example of this is smart dust, which can be either a camera or a listening device smaller than a grain of sand. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For comparison, a human hair is about 200,000 nanometers thick. The nano guitar is about as long as one-twentieth of the diameter of a human hair, 10 micrometers or 10,000 nanometers long. The six strings are 50 nanometers wide each. The entire guitar is the size of an average red blood cell. The guitar is carved from a grain of crystalline silicon by scanning a laser over a film called a ‘resist’. This technique is called Electrobeam Lithography. It can be played by tiny lasers in an atomic force microscope, and these act as the pick. The Nano Guitar is 17 octaves higher than a normal guitar. Even if its sound were amplified, it could not be detected by the human ear.
The nano guitar illustrates inaudible technology that is not meant for musical entertainment. The application of frequencies generated by nano-objects is called sonification. Such objects can represent numerical data and provide support for information processing activities of many different kinds that producing synthetic non-verbal sounds. Since the manufacture of the nano-guitar, researchers in the lab headed by Dr. Craighead have built even tinier devices. One thought is that they may be useful as tiny scales to measure tinier particles, such as bacteria, which may aid in diagnosis. More recently, physicists at the University of Washington published an article discussing the hope that the technique will be useful to test aspects of what until now has been purely theoretical physics, and they also hope it might have practical applications for sensing conditions at atomic and molecular scales.
- Payne J, Phillips M, The World’s Best Book. Running Press, 2009. ISBN 0-7624-3755-3, p. 109
- Schummer J, Baird D. Nanotechnology Challenges: implications for philosophy, ethics and society. World Scientific, 2006. ISBN 981-256-729-1, pp. 50–51; Nordmann A. Noumenal Technology: Reflections on the incredible tininess of nano. Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 8(3), 2005 read online, accessed August 15, 2010
- Piddock, Charles. Future Tech. Creative Media Applications, Inc. 2009. ISBN 978-1-4263-0468-2, pp. 35–39
- Physics News Update 659(3), October 28, 2003, The High and Low Notes of the Universe read online (accessed 15 August, 2010)
- Barrass S, Kramer G. Using sonification. Multimedia Systems 7:23–31, 1999.
- “Nano becomes ‘atto’ and will soon be ‘zepto’ for Cornell.” Azonanotechnology, April, 2004. read online, accessed 15 August, 2010
- Wang Z. et al. Phase transitions of adsorbed atoms on the surface of a carbon nanotube. Science 327:552, 2010 DOI 10.1126/science.1182507 read article online, accessed August 15, 2010
Further reading on nanotechnology
- Drexler, K. Eric, Nanosystems, Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing and Computation. P. 254-257. John Wiley and Son Inc. Canada. 1992. ISBN 0-471-57518-6.
- Mulhall, Douglas, Our Molecular Future. Prometheus Books. 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY. 2002. ISBN 1-57392-992-1
- Piddock, Charles. Future Tech. P. 35-39 Creative Media Applications, Inc. 2009. ISBN 978-1-4263-0468-2
- Sargent, Ted. The Dance of Molecules. Thunder’s Mouth Press, New York, NY. 2006. ISBN 1-56025-809-8
- Storrs Hall Ph.D., J., Nanofuture. P. 9-10. Prometheus Books. 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY. 2005. ISBN 1-59102-287-8
- Poncharal et al., Electrostatic Deflections and Electromechanical Resonances of Carbon Nanotubes (GA Tech). Science 283:1513, 1999.
- Sazonova et al., A tunable carbon nanotube electromechanical oscillator (Cornell). Nature, 2004 describes the actuation, tuning and detection of frequencies from the nano-guitar
- Postma et al., Dynamic range of nanotube- and nanowire-based electromechanical Systems (Caltech). Applied Physics Letters 86: 223105, 2005.
- Lassagne et al., Ultrasensitive Mass Sensing with a Nanotube Electromechanical Resonator (Barcelona, Spain) Nano Letters 8(11):3735–3738, 2008.
- advances since the nano-guitar
Cornell University researchers already have been able to detect the mass of a single cell using submicroscopic devices. Now they’re zeroing in on viruses. And the scale of their work is becoming so indescribably small that they have moved beyond the prefixes “nano” “pico” and “femto” to “atto.” And just in sight is “zepto.”
Members of the Cornell research group headed by engineering professor Harold Craighead report they have used tiny oscillating cantilevers to detect masses as small as 6 attograms by noting the change an added mass produces in the frequency of vibration.
Their submicroscopic devices, whose size is measured in nanometers (the width of three silicon atoms), are called nanoelectromechanical systems, or NEMS. But the masses they measure are now down to attograms. The mass of a small virus, for example, is about 10 attograms. An attogram is one-thousandth of a femtogram, which is one-thousandth of a picogram, which is one-thousandth of a nanogram, which is a billionth of a gram.‘Nano’ Becomes ‘Atto’ and Will Soon Be ‘Zepto’ for Cornell – New Technology