I had the coolest yarn + science experience yesterday.
Dr. Ray Baughman of the NanoTech Institute saw my silk presentation at the Dallas Asian Festival in June, and invited me to come and deliver a seminar for their students. They asked a lot of very interesting and insightful questions – some of which I knew the answers to. I’ve never been quizzed on the finer points of silk-related physics and chemistry by a room full of PhD’s.
Then, the coolness began. We went down to the wet lab, and they started showing me how they grow carbon nanotube “forests” on silicone plates (in a special oven at 700’C – about 1300’F) and use them to spin yarn. Tough, tiny yarn, made out of what amounts to fantastically organized soot. (see their article in the journal Science) The yarn is amazing stuff. I’m only beginning to get a grip on the things they’re thinking.
And, then, coolest of all – a long meeting with the research leaders, and we’re talking about the possiblities of silk/nanotube yarns and woven fabrics, and I’m going to go to the lab and work with them on some of my days off. I’m going to be a collaborator in their research. Pinch me.