(Photo from BlueSky MOD - see below story for more links)
Host lead: Sometimes the best things come in very small packages. Nanotechnology is the the art of manipulating molecular materials to build microscopic devices We're also discovering how thinking "small" can change the way we design our homes and communities. This week on Our Northwest, we consider the potential impact of nano research and how innovative thinking is revolutionizing the building industry. Listen here.
Mary Hawkins: M. Grant Norton has co-invented nanosprings: microscopic coils made of glass that - for one thing - can potentially be used in ultacapacitors - which would allow energy storage at a much, much higher rate than batteries. They can be recharged in seconds - and discharged up to a million times. They facilitate extremely efficient energy storage – that can be used in a wide range of applications, including solar. (microphoto: nanospring)
Grant Norton: The potential is there that we could revolutionize solar energy capture through the use of nanomaterials. If we could do that - it would open up a big range of possibilities.
Hawkins: Photovoltaic technology is no more efficient today than it was in the 1960's - it's at roughly 14 – and 28 percent - at its best. But new nano technology could drastically raise that efficiency...
Norton: If we think of the very, very long range future of the world, we're going to have to be generating all or a big portion of our energy from the sun and nanotechnology offers a route to do that.
Hawkins: Professor and Associate Dean of WSU’s College of Engineering and Architecture, M. Grant Norton. Greg Kessler, director of WSU's School of Architecture and Construction Management, is a big fan of small, elegant, utilitarian, collaborative designs. Smaller spaces will not only reap big environmental rewards, they will help us live more fulfilling lives. Kessler says that switching to smaller spaces is a process of prioritization and assessing one's values - something he's been doing in his own life.
Kessler: My wife and I are designing a house right now that's 11 hundred square feet. That's what we're going to live in. It doesn't have 3 or 4 bathrooms but it does have a very unique relationship to the landscape. It has some very unique outside spaces. Those are the things that are really important to us and that we value and so we've made that change because that's what we want to do and also it's a good thing for the environment.
Hawkins: Kessler spends a lot of time thinking about how to change our physical surroundings by making them more streamlined. Simultaneously, the model of lone architects is being replaced with collaborations between scientists, technologists, designers, homeowners and community members. And the physical outcome of these collaborations can be surprisingly elegant.
Kessler: Beauty doesn't evolve necessarily out of a single isolated vision or a single isolated mind - it can evolve out of a collaboration.
Hawkins: Creative collaborations in design and technology is the future along with "doing a lot with a little", and Kessler believes that the field of architecture is well-positioned to take full advantage of these values...
Kessler: Putting a building together is an incredibly difficult thing to do. When you think of all the different people involved. All the manufacturers. The parts. The pieces. A huge process in putting a building together. So architects are really educated to bring all those things together into a cohesive building that people live in or experience or work in... There's lots of ways of getting a multiplicity...of uses and events...and those ideas enliven the spaces making them much richer albeit they're harder to think about and harder to design.
Hawkins: Gregg Kessler. Go to Our Northwest at NWPR dot org for links to Grant Norton's nanospring research and much more on nanotechnology. You'll also find a recommended book list from Gregg Kessler (see below) along with links to some revolutionary collaborations (also below). For NWPR, I'm Mary Hawkins.
M. Grant Norton's business site: GoNanoTechnology.
From Materials Research Society (for $25.00): Nanospring-based Biosensors for Electrical DNA Microarrays.
Recommended by Greg Kessler:
Institute for Design at Stanford, or the Stanford D School.
The Ten Faces of Innovation, a book, curriculum, and links to its creator, Tom Kelley, and parent company, IDEO.
The Innovative Mind, by Gene Lundrum (a book & website).
The Art of Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin and Hilary Austen (pdf - slow to load).
Resources for Life (links to many small house companies)