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Science Becomes Art at SQI Gallery Night

The Salty Night by Nick Sather

The Salty Night by Nick Sather

The dark blue sea and luminous night sky in Nick Sather’s The Salty Night could just as easily hang alongside Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone.

But the “ocean waves” are actually the edge of a 3D-printed hydrogel, a material composed of water but that acts like a soft solid such as jelly, a contact lens, or cartilage between bones. The “stars” are salt crystals that solidify the hydrogel.

“By forming a jelly-like material, these hydrogels can be 3D-printed into any shape,” says Sather, a graduate student in the lab of Samuel I. Stupp, the Board Of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “For example, we can print hydrogel implants to heal cartilage defects in human joints.”

Sather was awarded first place for his scientific work of art during this year’s gallery night at the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology. The third-annual event was held October 20 on the Chicago campus. Top three prizes were awarded to:

First Place

The Salty Night
Technology: Polarized Optical Microscopy
Creator: Nick Sather, Sam Stupp Lab, Simpson Querrey Institute

Second Place

‪Polymer Nanofiber Composite
Technology: Scanning Electron Microscopy
Creators: Jacob Lewis and Mark McClendon, Sam Stupp Lab, Simpson Querrey Institute
About: This is a microscopic view of a new material we are studying for cartilage regeneration. It is a composite of two types of material: Nanofibers shown in pink and a biopolymer shown in purple. The combination of these materials allows us to take advantage of the mechanical properties of the polymer and bioactivity of the nanofibers. We are currently using this in pre-clinical large animal studies to regrow knee cartilage.”

‪Third Place (tie)

Epidermal Shunt Failure Monitor
Technology: Keyence VHX-5000 Digital
Creators: Siddharth Krishnan and Tyler Ray, John Rogers Lab

Third Place (tie)

Technology: LEO 1525 Scanning Electron Microscopy
Creator: Sarah Venetianer, Ramille Shah Lab

By Roger Anderson