The digital image above by Chris Robinson is one of the contenders in the NanoArt 2006 Competition. Robinson is a visual artist who teaches digital and 3D art imaging at the University of South Carolina and is an NSF multidisciplinary investigator interested in the role of science and technology in contemporary culture. He describes this particular artwork as “a digital drawing parodying IBM physicist Don Eigler’s iconic image in nanotechnology (‘Quantum Corral, STM image of iron on copper’)”. The central portion of Robinson’s digital drawing portrays Eigler’s “use of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) to arrange 48 iron atoms into a ring in order to ‘corral’ some surface state electrons and force them into quantum states and the resulting electron wave”. According to the entry, “The image is highly altered to provide convenient access to select information, but also deceives. The various other portions of the artwork explore alternatives and ask how we note and perceive truth – some of the surface imagery is accurate to this scale, some is not.”
The NanoArt Competition was started by the Romanian born artist Cris Orfescu who now lives in Los Angeles. Orfescu was also trained as a materials scientist and is particularly interested in the relation between science technology and art. The 2006 competition includes 71 works by 22 scientists/artists and anyone can vote for his favorite image through March 2007.