Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

I worked closely with Fellow Tom Perkins, Gavin King, and Allison Churnside. I was initially rendering an image for the JILA Light & Matter Spring 2009 issue and then after I was done, talk of using the image for everything popped up. I was excited about the possibility of getting the cover of Nano Letters, but the publishers at Nano Letters said they already have all their cover images for the whole year or something along those lines. I found this to be kinda weird and was wondering how they actually run their publication. Do they know exactly what research to publish almost a full year in advance? Regardless Science picked up the image for their Editor's choice which was also pretty neat.

I have worked on Tom Perkin's stuff on past projects, so I was familiar with some of the visual and potential animation objectives. The intial meeting with Gavin and Tom was pretty quick. I decided I wanted to use Maya for this project because I knew I could make a pretty beautiful rendering pretty quickly AND I could make an animation from 3D file when I had the extra time. The shapes were pretty easy to model (and I already had some 2D illustrator line work that I did previously to use for the "revolve" procedure in Maya). I spent most of my time working on textures, lighting, and colors. I was pretty happy with my lighting. I hate texturing in Maya, but I was able to get the results I wanted pretty efficiently. Of course I am running Maya 8.5 which is two versions old now and no longer supported by Autodesk. So Maya crashed a multiple times during this project which caused me an extra 2 days worth of Maya time. I think I am going finally break down get Maya 2009 Unlimited because the problems I am experienceing will never get fixed unless I upgrade (UPGRAYED!). I didn't use Mental Ray render because it was artifacting some weird stuff in there and I didn't have time to debugg that (and I would have to redo all my textures also). Hopefully the newer verion of Maya will support my current hardware configuration and work well with the latest OS that I am running on both the Mac and PC systems. All n All the final results were pretty good and I was happy with it. I am glad Perkins Group liked results as well and that NIST picked up the image for their press release thing. Hopefully I will get around to the animation part of the project after I get back from my trip this April.

  • Clients: Tom Perkins Group

  • Related Links: Science (Volume 323, Number 5922, Issue of 27 March 2009), NIST Tech Beat, Bio Optics World,In Sciences, Nano Werk, Shanghi Institute of Ceramics Chinese Academy of Science (SICCAS), Thomas Net, R & D Magazine, News Wise, Materials Research Society (MRS), JILA Research Highlight article
  • SQUID(s) (superconducting quantum interference devices)

    I worked closely with Manuel Castellanos-Beltran on this project. JILA had research highlight article for this research, but I wasn't able to make graphic for this research concept at that time because of tight deadlines. Manuel came back to me a few weeks later and he told me that NSF was interviewing him and Konrad about their research. He was asking me about making a visual that would explain their research to wider audience.

    I remember reading the papers and articles for this research, and I thought it would be a pretty hard to visualize some of the underlying concepts as a single image. Konrad and Manuel already had some pretty nice looking SEM images of the SQUID(s), so Manuel mentioned that an artist conception rendering of SQUID(s) might be a good thing for the NSF article. The SEM images of the SQUID(s) are interesting pictures, but they are kinda hard to interpret the actual shape and structure of the SQUID(s) themselves. So I proposed to make isometric illustration of the SQUID(s) which would see the shapes and pieces of the SQUIDs. Isometric illustrations are common for engineering diagrams, architecture, and manual diagrams. The SEM images kinda make the SQUIDs look like one piece when they are actually made up of multiple (very thin) layers and pieces. I did all the line work in Illustrator using the SSR Method and then used Photoshop for the final touches. I kept my colors palette to greens and blues to relate more to the original SEM images.

    Read the NSF article to find more about the SQUID(s) research. The NSF article is pretty good with explaining the concepts to a general audience.

  • Clients: Konrad Lehnert and Manuel Castellanos-Beltran

  • Related Links: NSF, Research.gov, Nanotechnology Now, JILA Research Highlight article
  • JILA MONSTRs laser photography

    This was a fun photo shoot involving lasers from the JILA MONSTR system. I actually did this photo shoot the day before I left for the Christmas holiday (i think it might have been Christmas eve) which was a perfect time since everybody was gone and nobody was currently running experiments with the MONSTR system. Twas the night before Christmas, And all through the JILA hallways. Not a creature (or grad) was-ah-stirring. Not even a mouse ha! sorry i had to do it, but it really did feel like that at JILA on that day...really. Nobody was there EXCEPT for Alan Bristow. Alan helped with the photo shoot so it turned out to be a really fun collaboration (plus he had the keys to the labs). AND he brought his sweet lovely precious, expensive DSLR Nikon camera with a decent lens! I only have SRO's lame Canon Rebel XT DSLR which is no where close to Alan's model. The Rebel XT that I use at JILA is "ok" and it works fine, but it is really a cheaper scaled back version of the more professional standard Canon 20D SLR which is what I currently use for my personal projects (with SIGMA lens). After being familiar with the Canon 20D and 30D models (and even the Nikon DSLRs too), lets just say Rebel XT has many short comings when it comes to its color calibrations, light metering system, and its auto focusing matrix (you get what you paid for is the only thing that comes to mind). I inherited the Rebel XT from my predecessor when I first start working at JILA, and I have been putting a new pro DSLR on my JILA Christmas wish list every year but the JILA Santa fails to deliver a sweet new Canon DSLR under the tree. Anyways......Alan had his camera, so I quickly abandoned the Rebel XT in favor of getting to use his camera. Alan and I were pretty excited about the photo shoot because it was problem solving game. It wasn't just a regular photo shoot where you just set up some lights and point-n-shoot. We wanted to turn on the lasers and doing some laser trace photography.

    I heard about some of the methods for doing this, but I never had the chance to actually try it out. Even when the lasers are turned on, you can't see them with the naked eye. JILA MONSTR has all sorts of red and green lasers going every which way. Basically we setup the lights the way we wanted and then opened the shutter for a super long exposure. So we would put a white piece of paper attached the end of a thing stick or wire and trace the path with the paper. The only major problem was the tripod which was "janky" and broken, so it was pretty tough keeping it from falling apart. The shoot went well and we eventually got all the types of exposures I wanted to make my final blend of the images together.

    Special thanks goes to Alan Bristow for collaborating with me on this photo shoot and for turning on the JILA MONSTR. If you are curious about what the heck is a JILA MONSTR and why its such a beast, then read the Highlight article below. JILA actually has two of these laser systems machined by the JILA machine shope.

  • Clients: Ralph Jimenez and Steve Cundiff

  • Related Links: JILA Research Highlight article
  • Quantum Dots

    I worked with David Nesbitt who explained to me how quantum dots worked and how his research involved quantum dots. I made a simulation/animation that shows what turns a quantum dot off and on, but I haven't had time to finish that part of the project yet. My main focus to was to finish the still graphic before the deadline for the print issue of JILA Light and Matter and for the website. I really didn't know much about quantum dots before David's explanation and his research. I did some background research and I found out that quantum dots are fairly popular and that there is a lot of excitement about finding out more about quantum dots and their applications. It seems like one of the main questions centered around quantum dots was their ability to turn off and on and how to predict this (and potentially control it). So I wanted to make the visual that explains some the mechanisms behind the turning off and on feature. Its actually a very complex process, so it was difficult trying to figure out a clean and accessible way of explaining the process visually.

    I use Maya for this project because I wanted model the quantum dots structure which consisted of a interior of cadmium seleide (CdSe) and then surrounded by a shell of zinc sulfide (ZnS).

  • Client: David Nesbitt

  • Related Links: JILA Research Highlight article