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December (2)

MRS Fall Meeting Day 4
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MRS Fall Meeting Day 3
Monday, December 3, 2012
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MRS Fall Meeting Day 2
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MRS Fall Meeting Day 1
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Materials Research Society Fall Meeting
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
July (1)

What's in an error bar anyways?
Thursday, July 26, 2012
January (2)
2011 (7)
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Nick Fahrenkopf
Albany, New York

In 1955 while addressing the National Academy of Sciences Richard Feynman stated "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty." As usual, Feynman's statement was spot on, and holds true decades later. In his famous "Plenty of Room at the Bottom" lecture Feynman talked about what we now call nanotechnology, and all the different applications. Here I am, half a century later, working "at the bottom" and living in a world of uncertainty. I hope to share some of the exciting discoveries at the nanoscale and explain how they apply to my passion of biotechnology- as well as the everyday world. Learn more about Nicholas Fahrenkopf

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Comment by Nick Fahrenkopf in What's in an error bar anyways?

lkasdjfsaid: The difference is not in the fields of study, but rather in the two different types of work . . .Read More
Nov 27, 2012, 9:34am
Comment by Nick Fahrenkopf in What's in an error bar anyways?

Brian Krueger, PhDsaid: Since you're working on semiconductor sequencing, what do you think of Oxford Na. . .Read More
Nov 27, 2012, 9:28am

Good one . . .Read More
Oct 15, 2012, 12:42am
Comment by lkasdjf in What's in an error bar anyways?

The difference is not in the fields of study, but rather in the two different types of work being done.  In the example, the EE is making an new device,  -- i.e. developing a new type of technolo. . .Read More
Sep 07, 2012, 11:38am
Awesome Stuff
Thanks to Flickr users kevindooley and DESQie for their art I integrated into the blog's header image.
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Day 4 was also a travel day so I didn’t get to see much of the conference. I spent time packing, checking out, and getting out of the city before rush hour set in. But I did want to write about one unexpected but interesting talk, and recap some culinary highlights of the trip (sorry, I love food!)

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To be honest, most of today I was preoccupied getting ready for my talk in the afternoon. But, to take my mind of it I still tried to attend talks. I feel like sometimes conferences are hit or miss. Sometimes you could walk into a 15 minute contributed talk and be blown away. But other times the 30 minute invited talks could be a literature review or incremental research. A lot of the talks I went to today were incremental talks. It was a lot of “the field is at point A and we’ve brought it to A + dA”. So I heard about thin film transistors which could be useful for wearable electronics, but I didn’t feel like it was anything new. I heard another nanowire sensor talk, but again, nothing revolutionary.

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Before I get started with my summary of Day 2, I need to vent a bit. As a presenter 99% of the time you are not loud enough to not use a microphone, so please don’t try to forgo it. Also, 99% of the time you will cover 1 slide per minute. So, a 15 minute presentation should not have 40 slides. You will never cover all of that material. Please rethink what point you want to get across. I’m constantly disappointed by folks who have the fly through their results due to poor planning. I’m also disappointed when chairs don’t stick to the schedule. There are multiple sessions all over the place so when I show up at 10:15 to see talk X and you just started talk X-1 because you’re running 15 minutes late, that means I can’t see X and still make it to the 10:30 talk in a different session. The times are more than a suggestion!

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Today was a travel day, but I was still able to attend a number of biomedical engineering talks which are personally interesting to me, and some talks on memristors, which some of my lab mates work on. I’ve explained elsewhere what a memristor is, but briefly it is a metal-insulator-metal material stack that has two resistance states (high and low). If that sounded like goobldy-gook to you, imagine a chunk of wood sandwiched in between two chunks of copper metal. Normally electricity won’t flow between the two chunks of copper through the wood (high resistance). In a memristor you can apply a high voltage to create a conductive path through the “wood” creating a low resistance state. This is useful for computers because it can be used as a memory device: high versus low translates to a 1 or a 0. If you make lots of these you have the memory chip that could be used in your computer or cell phone. These are better than what we have now because they take no power to maintain the data, and can be fabricated much smaller so you can store even more songs and apps on your phone.

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I was a little disappointed to see how little the MRS Fall Meeting was getting mentioned on Twitter, so I decided to summarize some of the cool things I learned day by day. Before I get started, though, why MRS? Materials research might not sound glamorous but without it we wouldn’t have the advanced electronics we have today. Indeed, work continues to advance the development of better, faster, cheaper electronic devices, but materials researchers also work on alternative energy (solar cells, fuel cells) and biomedical technology (stem cell engineering, diagnostic sensors). It is this broad array of topics that interests me, as well as the shear size of MRS. Monday night the poster sessions had over 500 posters. And there are different poster sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I end up finding more interesting talks than I can actually attend. So, what I’d like to do is show you all a sample of some of the most interesting things that I’ve come across for the four days I’m at MRS.

Side note: If you find or know anyone else covering this conference please send them my way. I'm on Twitter @NanoBioNick

Update: You can read my day-by-day coverage here: . . . More
Views: 5677 | Comments: 7
Last by Nick Fahrenkopf on Nov 27, 2012, 9:34am
Standard deviation. Error bars. Significance. Confidence interval. No matter what you call it, or how you calculate it, science is about more than numerical results. It’s about context. What do those numbers MEAN? (Statistics pun intended.)

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Last Friday I was watching 20/20 with my fiancee. Shows like 20/20 or Dateline are usually about some unsolved murder mystery that is just creepy, but TV offerings on Friday evening are slim pickings so we gave this one a shot. This episode by Chris Cuomo (son of former NYS Governor Mario Cuomo and brother of current NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo) dealt with the unexpected consequences of facilitated communication- a technique used to give autistic people a chance to communicate when they're unable to audibly. Of course it is mostly garbage, but we'll get to that.

The idea is that autisic people can't speak- at least not audibly. But give them a keyboard and they can type out ideas- in fact very well put together ideas. Most times they still need help to type, so a facilitator literally holds their hand, or wrist or arm, and helps them guide their finger to the key they're looking for. That's right, someone else "helps" autistic people type what they're trying to say.

It sounds almost miraculous. People who were previously thought to be uncommunicative all of the sudden can create thoughts and sentanc . . . More
Views: 1094 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jan 03, 2012, 7:54am
With 2012 officially here we're all making resolutions. I've pledged to eat breakfest out less (bagel and cream cheese is so good!) and to blog at least once a month (sorry I've been scarce!) I think now is also a great time to make some New Year's Resolutions for the lab too. Here's what I have planned, if you have some more in mind leave them in the comments!


Safety First! With the recent news out of UCLA bringing up the tradgedy a few years ago, safety is on my mind again. We had an accident a few months back in our lab too- luckily nothing nearly as bad- so it can happen to anyone. I'm taking this time to reaffrim my policy of safety goggles and gloves any time I'm in any lab or clean room. In addition, any time I'm in a wet lab I'll wear my lab coat. It doesn't matter how quick I'll be in and out, or how trivial something is, you never know when something can go wrong, and unforunately you never know what someone else in the lab is doing, or how safe they are. I also want to be more proactive and ask everyone else around me to wear the same PPE so hopefully they get in the habit too. Finally, whenever I'm doing science outreach I want to make sure I'm setting a good example to the kids, no matter how not dangerous the demonstration might be.

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Last by yannisguerra on Nov 23, 2011, 12:28am
I’ve unfortunately had to sit through some very rough presentations lately, so in everyone’s best interests, here is my second volume of things to think about when giving a presentation (see: Ten Tips to Give Great Thesis Defense). In this case we won’t be looking so much at the presentation, but instead the experiment and how small oversights can blow up in your face during a presentation. I could go on forever about these kinds of things, so for now I’ll focus on four things.

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Last by firsat on Oct 03, 2011, 12:12am
In case you haven’t heard, memristors are a big deal (see NanoLetters, ACS Nano, and Nature). So what are they and why are researchers in academia and industry so interested? Are they going to change life as we know it?

Scientists, at least folks like me working at the intersection of biology and technology, are really interested in memristors because they are a fully electronic component that act (broadly speaking) like neurons. That is, they have the capacity to “remember” based on the current that flows through them. So, just like you might develop muscle memory from touching a hot pan (and hopefully learn to pull your hand away fast) memristors can learn. What caught my eye recently was this article that touted protein based memristors. That is, an electronic component that can mimic biological circuits, using biological molecules. Woah.

So let’s back up. What is a memristor? The typical spiel is that memristors are the fourth fundamental circuit element besides the resistor, capacito . . . More
Views: 3872 | Comments: 7
Last by Mathanas on Dec 13, 2011, 5:12am
I’m a student at the College of Nanoscale SCIENCE and ENGINEERING (emphasis mine). While we’re clearly not the only college of any kind of science AND engineering, I can’t help but reflect on what unlikely bedfellows such a joint college creates. What follows is an immense amount of opinion and impressions that I get.

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One of the research scientists at my college forwarded me a Nature article he thought I’d be interested in. This was the same guy who wanted to know how you feed DNA, so I was wary, but I took a look anyways. Now here I am breaking one of my only blogging rules and am writing about my own research. The paper came out in July in Nature titled “An integrated semiconductor device enabling non-optical genome sequencing” – it is open access too so take a look (after you finish reading here of course!)

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Last by Nick Fahrenkopf on Aug 02, 2011, 3:00pm
I’m a molecular biologist trapped in the body of someone with a physics degree. I’m a member of a bacteriology lab trapped in a college of “Nanoscale Science and Engineering”. As such, while I try to do cool nanoscale things with biological materials, I’m surrounded by physicists and electrical engineers along with their research projects and problems.

Don’t get me wrong, it is often very interesting and downright “cool stuff”. For now I’ll skip hot electrons and ballistic transport, or density functional theory calculations and focus on some buzz words you might have heard:

  • Carbon nanotubes (CNTs)
  • Graphene
  • Buckyballs
In a word, they’re called fullerenes. These materials are made of one thing: carbon. Just carbon, and nothing but carbon. Why are different formulations of carbon so exciting and worth spending millions if not billions of dollars on? As with just about anything in nanotechnology, matter behaves differently at the nanoscale. Graphite (in pencils) is pretty boring. Diamonds, while pretty (and apparently friendly to women) are pretty inert and solid. The carbon allotropes have little to do with their nanoscale cousins, although that’s not to say we can’t turn on into the other.

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Last by Kj on Dec 22, 2011, 11:55pm
I don’t really follow football but someone tweeted earlier today that with his new contract (5 year $90 million) Colts QB Peyton Manning will make $26,510 per pass attempt. Every time he tries a pass in a game, he’ll make what a graduate student makes in a year*. That got me thinking- what does it take to make/earn/rake in what a graduate student slaves away for each year?

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Last by Alchemystress on Jul 26, 2011, 1:40pm
Hello World!

If there's a more overused programming bit (no pun intended) I don't know it. I just wanted to take a minute to share with you all what I'm hoping to do with this space. But first, a big shout out to Brian and the rest of the LabSpaces crew for having me- I'm really excited to be a part of this community!

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