silver nanoprisms

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Silver nanoprisms. Silver nanoprisms in pyrex glass tube, 12mm x 6’, 2011.

In my lab, I make silver nanoprisms. I make these particles in water, first making silver spheres that appear yellow to the eye. When I expose these yellow spheres to particular colors of light, they change shape—from spheres to triangles. When they change shape, they also change color—from yellow to turquoise. In other words, color causes a shape change, which in turn causes a color change. I’ve been doing this four years now, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.

I think of this tube filled with silver nanoprisms as a photograph in which trillions of nanoparticle-pixels record the light to which they were exposed.

The exaggerated, elongated shape of this sculpture emphasizes the nanoprisms’ strange optical qualities. Viewed head-on, these particles appear brilliant turquoise and, from an oblique angle, muddy brown.