ART THAT MIGHT HELP DETECT CANCER
IT’S HARD TO GET PEOPLE to care about carbon nanotubes, says Houston-based artist Joseph Cohen, because they’re so small you can’t even see them. And yet the optical properties of these exquisitely tiny cylinders of carbon atoms make them ideal for cancer-sensing implants. Since 2015, Cohen has worked as an artistin-residence at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, learning how to separate nanotubes into different naturally occurring atomic formations, called chiralities, that emit different colours when zapped with infrared light. When sorted by formation, nanotubes are most effective at detecting cancer, but it’s not an easy task. To build excitement for nanotubes, and get more scientists sorting them, Cohen is working on a series of paintings made out of nanotubes that change appearance under infrared light. The paintings go on view at Rice University in Houston this November.