Jennifer: I have been thinking a lot about the synergy of art and science since meeting the team at SymbioticA, the collaborative art and science laboratory, and poet/scientist Ormonde Waters.
I was relaying these inspiring examples of art/science interaction to a friend, Dave Parlevliet, at work the other day. He then offhandedly made mention of one of his own research projects; a project involving not biological art, nor poetry, but music. Deep Purple, to be exact.
Dave played Deep Purple to his silicon nanowires in order to obtain a dense, crystalline deposition from silane gas. Rather than using a pulse generator, Dave used “Smoke On The Water” to generate pulsations through the gas, enabling molecules to deposit on a glass slide as a mesh of nanowires.
At the time, Dave was investigating the possibility of using nanowires in solar cells. To obtain maximum absorption of sunlight he wanted to produce a mesh of straight nanowires covering the surface of the slide. However, the nanowires that listened to Deep Purple ended up particularly kinky. While the mesh was sufficiently dense, Dave concluded that the standard method of pulse generation yielded straighter nanowires.
While Deep Purple yielded kinky nanowires, the British hard rock band still came out on top over the strains of Chopin’s “Nocturne Opus 9 No. 1”, Josh Abrahams’ “Addicted to Bass”, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Rammstein’s “Das Modell”. It was the German industrial music which yielded the least dense mesh of nanowires.
I often have the radio on in the lab while I’m working but I had never considered that the amplitude and pitch signals it generates may be affecting my experimental results. I might try serenading my polymeric nanoparticles next time and see what happens.