Flowers are great—until they wilt after a couple of days and find a new home in the trash can. Harvard research fellow and chemio-"botanist" Wim Noorduin has found away to capture the same beauty of a fresh bouquet in an entirely new way. His microbial art—what he calls crystal nano flowers—may be invisible to the naked eye, but take a look at them under a microscope and, lo and behold, an entire arrangement has blossomed in front of your eyes.
Much like nurturing a bonsai tree, Noorduin engineers the crystals as they bloom into floral bouquets. The process itself is surprisingly simple: Noorduin combines a mixture of inexpensive chemicals in a beaker, which crystallize over the course of two hours. He manipulates the crystals as they grow to give them them shape, color and dimension. Each structure measures in at around the diameter of a single hair.
Check out the video from Creator's Project for more insight into the work:
Under a microscope, you can take in the nano art two ways: zoomed out for a "wading through a field of flowers" feel or extremely close for colorful details and textures. Noorduin takes a stab at describing the effect his work has on the Creator's Project website:
For three years now, I've been looking at these very strange white stripes on plates that are maybe only an inch long or so. And every time I'm amazed that it's a complete sort of coral reef that you're diving into as soon as you look under the microscope. I notice quite often that I simply forget to make photos because I just want to look further and further on the samples and discover new structures and then get lost. These small samples really contain their own world.
Real-world application notwithstanding, scientific research can often come off as esoteric to those of us without a terminal degree. But Noorduin's crystal nano flowers appeal to anyone with an appreciation for color, design and creative processes. Just don't try to pass off "nano-flower embedded pennies" as a bouquet the next time you've got a big date. That might not end well for you.