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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Cristian Orfescu > Art and Nanotechnology - Part 2

Cris Orfescu

Art - Nanotechnology interaction is over 2000 years old and it is possible to be much older than that. This is a continuation of a series of articles on the nanotechnology impact on art from the beginning of human history to present times.

August 5th, 2009

Art and Nanotechnology - Part 2

Photography, conform to wikipedia ( ), is the process, activity and art of creating still or moving pictures by recording radiation on a sensitive medium, such as a photographic film, or an electronic sensor. Light patterns reflected or emitted from objects activate a sensitive chemical or electronic sensor during a timed exposure, usually through a photographic lens in a device known as a camera that also stores the resulting information chemically or electronically. The photographic film is a transparent cellulose acetate base coated with a thin layer of gelatin containing Silver halides. The light decomposes the Silver halides, producing nanoparticles of Silver, which are the pixels of the photographic image ( ). The first successful photograph was produced in 1825 by Nicéphore Niépce. It is a photograph of a 17th century Flemish engraving, showing a man leading a horse. It was made with a heliography technical process and required an exposure of eight hours. The Bibliothèque nationale de France bought it for 450,000 € in 2002, deeming it as a "national treasure" ( ).

Oldest known Photograph, by Nicéphore Niépce

Daguerre continued Niépce's work developing the daguerreotype in 1837, which greatly reduces the exposure time to half an hour. The daguerreotype, along with the Tintype, is a photographic image allowing no direct transfer of the image onto another light-sensitive medium, as opposed to glass plate or paper negatives. Preparation of the plate prior to image exposure resulted in the formation of a layer of photo-sensitive silver halide, and exposure to a scene or image through a focusing lens formed a latent image. The latent image was developed by placing the exposed plate over a slightly heated (about 90°F) cup of mercury and fixed by dipping the plate in a solution of sodium sulfite ( ).

Daguerre Atelier, Daguerreotype, 1837

Known since ancient times, the colloidal gold was originally used as a method of staining glass. A so-called Elixir of Life, a potion made from gold, was discussed, if not actually manufactured, in ancient times. In the 16th century, the alchemist Paracelsus claimed to have created a potion called Aurum Potabile (Latin: potable gold). In the 17th century the glass-coloring process was refined by Andreus Cassius and Johann Kunchel. In 1842, John Herschel invented a photographic process called Chrysotype (from the Greek word for gold) that used colloidal gold to record images on paper. Herschel's system involved coating paper with ferric citrate, exposing it to the sun in contact with an etching used as mask, then developing the print with a chloroaurate solution. This did not provide continuous-tone photographs. The modern chemist and photographic historian Dr Mike Ware has experimented with a reinvention of the process giving more subtle tones.

Mike Ware, Rackwick at Dusk, Hoy

The scientific evaluation of colloidal gold did not begin until Michael Faraday's work of the 1850s. Colloidal gold, also known as "nanogold", is a suspension (or colloid) of sub-micrometer-sized particles of gold in a fluid, usually water. The liquid is usually either an intense red color (for particles less than 100 nm), or a dirty yellowish color (for larger particles). The nanoparticles themselves can come in a variety of shapes. Spheres, rods, and cubes are some of the more frequently observed ones ( ). Due to the unique optical, electronic, and molecular-recognition properties of gold nanoparticles, they are the subject of substantial research, with applications in a wide variety of areas, including medical, electronics, nanotechnology, and the synthesis of novel materials with unique properties. Faraday prepared the first metallic colloids in 1856. The entire set of specimens (over 600) are now housed by the Royal Institution of Great Britain ( ).

Aqueous colloidal Gold

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