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September 5th, 2003

The mother of invention

Scientists are pretty good at labeling things, from microscopic bugs to distant galaxies. But pinning a label on Joanna Aizenberg gives them pause. Nobody disputes that Aizenberg is very good at what she does for Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs. It's just hard to say precisely what that is. Chemical physics? Biophysics? Structural biology? Crystallography? How about art? Mimicking how creatures "self-assemble" sturdy shells, fantastic fibers and Lilliputian lenses from chalklike crystals is the holy grail of nanotechnology, a field that strives for electronics and drug-delivery devices smaller than labs can create.


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