Black and yellow bumblebees are spread out across a teal grate and hang on a wall in the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Innovation Campus. But these bees are far from real. The image actually shows glue binding with roadway pavement at a microscopic level. This piece is a work of a new art form called NanoArt.
NanoArt is an art discipline that comes from science. The images, captured through a microscope while viewing an object at the nano scale, have been manipulated by current students or graduates of UNL in order to highlight the aesthetic appeal.
The “NanoArt Display” has been featured at Innovation campus since Oct. 3 and is open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The display, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience, will close Nov. 30.
The term “nano” is a scientific term that means one-billionth of a unit. When objects are viewed at nano scale, they show unexpected chemical and physical properties.
This is where NanoArt comes to life.
“NanoArt is a new art discipline that we have never seen before,” Terese Janovec, the education outreach coordinator for the NCMN, said. “It’s an intersecting of art, technology and nanoscience in an image.”
While viewing things on a nano scale, students can capture images through a microscope and later manipulate parts of the images, like color, or heat up the object and control the cooling process to create crystals in the image.
“It’s pretty amazing all that happens on a nano scale that we don’t see,” Janovec said.
And by manipulating the images the artists capture, competitors can make their images stand out from the crowd.
Some of the works resemble photographs, but others resemble modern art. The bright colors and sharp line work create optical illusions.
The students create their NanoArt for a competition sponsored by the NCMN.
Ehsan Rezaei recently received his doctorate of mechanical engineering and won the 2014-15 NCMN NanoArt Competition.
“Sometimes, the beauty comes from very big mechanical features, but when we go to a nano scale, we can see the beauty of science,” Rezaei said.
According to a press release from the NCMN, the NanoArt display is made up of 25 images that represent nanoscience research at UNL. The display serves to “celebrate the aesthetic appeal and creativity of nanoscience.”
The artwork is judged by a panel selected by the NCMN Education and Outreach Committee for “the aesthetic impact and the effectiveness of communicating aspects of nanoscience,” according to a NCMN release to competitors. Winners each receive an award and gift certificate. Their work is also mounted and included in the traveling exhibition.
While manipulation of the image is allowed, Rezaei said he used no form of manipulation when creating his NanoArt for the competition, and it only took him a couple of hours to create after many failed attempts. His end piece looks like a pool of electromagnetic pinwheels.
“There were a lot of unsuccessful trials behind my piece,” Rezaei said. “The main challenge is to never give up.”
The traveling exhibition, which began in 2012, has made stops at places like the Nebraska Union, the Nebraska East Union, the Hastings Museum and The Burkholder Project, an art gallery in the Haymarket.
Janovec said that through the NanoArt display, she hopes to shine a light on nanoscience in the Lincoln community.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness about what nanoscience looks like,” Janovec said. “It’s in so many different areas, so it can really resonate with a lot of different people and scientists.”