No, it's not a new Hollywood blockbuster: Cornell University professors have made a White House 1/100,000 the size of the original to honor President Bush's recent signing of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act.
Cornell University alumnus and NanoBusiness Alliance Co-Founder Josh Wolfe will present a lucite encased paperweight containing a chip with a lithograph of The White House as a gift to Dr. John H. Marburger, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), at a meeting of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which Marburger also co-chairs.
The Cornell project uses state-of-the-art silicon processing technology similar to that used for making computer chips. It includes not only a nano-White House, but also a miniature American Flag using many similar nanotechnology techniques.
Nanotechnology is the ability to do things – see, measure, develop and manufacture – at the scale of atoms and molecules. It is predicted that nanotechnology will usher in a new industrial revolution, completely changing the clothes we wear, the energy we use, the cars we drive and the medicines we take. Nanotechnology is predicted to be a $1 trillion global market in little over a decade.
“I am honored to have the chance to present to the President’s team a gift that demonstrates – in a fun way – the power of nanotechnology and being able to work on such a small scale,” Josh Wolfe, Co-Founder of the NanoBusiness Alliance and Managing Partner of Lux Capital. “However, what is far more important here is exposing people to the power of working at the nanoscale and how it will literally change the way we make everything from our computers to our cars to our health and well-being.”
The nano-White House was made in honor of President Bush’s recent signing of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act that places the National Nanotechnology Initiative into law and authorizes $3.7 billion over the next four years for the creation of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office and the funding of federal government nanotechnology programs
“This President and both sides of the aisle in Congress have been nothing short of visionary when it comes to promoting the research and development of nanotechnology in the U.S.,” said F. Mark Modzelewski, Executive Director of the NanoBusiness Alliance. “When I left the Oval Office after President Bush signed the Bill, I wanted to make sure that we had a gift that would always remind him of nanotechnology. After consulting with Cornell over these past few months on the nano-White House, I believe we have done just that.”
In the gift to the President, there is one “large” White House that is 4.5 millimeters across; four smaller White Houses, each 510 micrometers across, flank the larger White House. Atop each nano-White House is an American flag that measures 19x10 micrometers. The smallest feature are the stars for the flags and the lines that make up the smaller White Houses which are approximately 500 nanometers wide. To put this into perspective, four nano-White House stars or lines would fit across the width of a red blood cell. Inside of today’s computer chips the wires are now routinely thinner than the thinnest column in the nano-White House. In fact you could line up five computer wires across the width of the White House column.
Scott Stelick and Madanagopal Kunnavakkam in the Batt Research Group at Cornell University created the nano-American flag and the nano-White House. The nano-White House was made at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility in Ithaca, NY.
The tools and processes used to create the nano-American flag are similar to those used to create computer chips and other nanoscale devices. The colors in the American flag are produced by a distinct pattern of lines etched into a thin layer of glass coating a silicon wafer. These tiny lines spaced at nanometer dimensions diffract specific wavelengths of light producing the red, white and blue colors. Diffraction gratings, such as the ones used here, have applications in telecommunications, biomedicine and analytical chemistry.