Art on the Nanoscale and Beyond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Ahmet F. Coskun
  • Grant England
  • Sangyeon Cho
  • Jonty Hurwitz
  • Mathias Kolle
  • Ali Khademhosseini
  • A. John Hart
  • Albert Folch
  • Seok Hyun Yun

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Harvard Medical School, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Royal British Society of Sculptors 108 Old
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • King Abdulaziz University


Methods of forming and patterning materials at the nano- and microscales are finding increased use as a medium of artistic expression, and as a vehicle for communicating scientific advances to a broader audience. While sharing many attributes of other art forms, miniaturized art enables the direct engagement of sensory aspects such as sight and touch for materials and structures that are otherwise invisible to the eye. The historical uses of nano-/microscale materials and imaging techniques in arts and sciences are presented. The motivations to create artwork at small scales are discussed, and representations in scientific literature and exhibitions are explored. Examples are presented using semiconductors, microfluidics, and nanomaterials as the artistic media; these utilized techniques including micromachining, focused ion beam milling, two-photon polymerization, and bottom-up nanostructure growth. Finally, the technological factors that limit the implementation of artwork at miniature scales are identified, and potential future directions are discussed. As research marches toward even smaller length scales, innovative and engaging visualizations and artistic endeavors will have growing implications on education, communication, policy making, media activism, and public perception of science and technology.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1724–1742
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number9
Early online date15 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2016


  • Communication, Microfabrication, Nanomaterials, Photography, Visualization