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(Smithsonian Magazine)   How the Romans invented nanotechnology. And not just in the endowment of statues   (smithsonianmag.com) divider line 43
    More: Cool, nanotechnology, British Museum  
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4575 clicks; posted to Geek » on 27 Aug 2013 at 6:22 PM (33 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-08-27 05:35:30 PM
But how did they do it? What do gold/silver particles at 50 nanometres look like? Smoke? Would they inhale it and blow it into the glass? Is this type of thing rare?

I have more questions.
 
2013-08-27 06:27:18 PM
Shrinkage, subby!

/marble is cold
 
2013-08-27 06:30:35 PM
Quintillius Varus, give me back my nano-technology!!1!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzXWnBU3ZLM

/enjoy the earworm
 
2013-08-27 06:30:43 PM
Very interesting find subby. Thank you!
 
2013-08-27 06:33:25 PM
That's interesting. The cup has different colors for what is inside it. Maybe this is the origins of legendary cups that would reveal poisons.
 
2013-08-27 06:35:47 PM
interestingly, in roman times, large penises were considered grotesque, comic, or both

so pretty much i would have been ideally sized back then.
 
2013-08-27 06:48:08 PM
*Guesses*: I guess gold nanospheres.

*Checks* Yep! Red stained glass. Nanospheres!

Slaxl: But how did they do it? What do gold/silver particles at 50 nanometres look like? Smoke? Would they inhale it and blow it into the glass? Is this type of thing rare?

I have more questions.


I'm  physics grad student, and my research focuses on nanophysics. I've actually *made* gold nanospheres, so I can try to answer your questions!

Gold nanospheres, when made, are in a solution, and are generally red-to-orange in color (depending on the size). This is due to the way they scatter light, from an effect called 'Surface Plasmon Resonance" which is actually not NEARLY as difficult to explain as it sounds. (Basically they heavily absorb red light).

While I do not know how ti make red stained class, I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that they *didn't* dry this solution and make a powder-whe you do that, you tend not to have nanospheres/nanoparticles anymore. Nanoparticles are, unless they're capped/coated in something, inherently unstable: They tend to aggregate and clump back into bulk matter. If they'd tried drying it out,t hey'd have just wound up with a gold-colored dust.

Thus, I suspect they simple doused the molten glass *in* this nanosphere solution.  I suspect looking up the history of making red stained glass would tell you.

And while I don't know the history of gold nanospheres off the top of my head, I can tell you *making* them is actually piss-easy.
The steps are as follows:
1) Mix Nitric and Hydrochloric acid in a 1-3 ratio (this creates aqua regia, an acid mixture capable of, well, dissolving gold).

2) Dissolve gold.

3) Now boil away all the acid: What you're left with is Hydro-ChloroAuric Acid, sometimes called 'gold salts'. It is INSANELY hydrophillic (probably not the right term), to the point that it will literally dissolve from the moisture in the air via sucking it *out* of the air. It's a biatch and a half to keep it from liquifying (We want it in its powdered state so we can measure it out properly.)

NOTE: STEPS 1-3 ARE DANGEROUS AND WE DON'T EVEN DO THEM IN THE LAB. We buy our chloroauric acid. It's not worth the risk. (Actually, ALL these steps are a litle dangerous: Chloroauric acid is, well, and acid, and it's also somewhat toxic (wooo chlorine), and it hurts LIKE A biatch if you even get a small bit of the powder on your skin-because it will take in water from the air, and turn from a powder into an acid. Yay tiny chemical burns.)

4) Put the chloro auric acid in water. This will give you a very faintly yellow solution (you do NOT need to use much.)

5) Boil, and stir rapidly.

6) Add, well, citric acid (or dissolved sodium citrate). The ratio between the ammount of citric acid you add and the amount of chloroauric acid you have will ultimately determine the size.

Now you just need to keep boiling and stirring. Your solution will now go from slightly yellow, to clear, to *BLACK*, to some color ranging from purple to red to orange, depending on your sphere size. You may feel slightly thirsty, because it really, really looks like fruit-punch koolaid.

You now have gold nanospheres!

While I don't know the history, given how *easy* it is to make, and the obsession with gold-I suspect the process of making gold nanospheres was accidentally discovered by alchemists. I rather doubt they *knew* they were making gold nanospheres, but that's what they were doing. I think pretty much all red stained glass is made using them.

Any questions, or clarifications, and I'd be happy to try and answer!
 
2013-08-27 07:00:29 PM

Slaxl: But how did they do it? What do gold/silver particles at 50 nanometres look like? Smoke? Would they inhale it and blow it into the glass? Is this type of thing rare?

I have more questions.


It would be a liquid suspension, i.e. colloidal gold.  Created with a little bit of simple chemistry.  Colloidal gold and copper have been used in glass making for thousands of years to give red and green coloring respectively.  Both have varying shades depending on the size of the particles, which in turn depends on the precise method of preparation like the temperature of the solution, how hard and long you stir it, etc.  Likely would have been mixed in with the feedstock before melting.  Colloidal silver was more of the topical antibiotic of the day, but I guess it's not that big of a stretch to try it in glass making, given that pretty much all the colorings are metal based.

The rare part is that they found just the right proportions to give the end effect.  Probably started off as an accident when trying to find new recipes.  Other than that, not that rare.
 
2013-08-27 07:48:08 PM
Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.
 
2013-08-27 07:52:24 PM
This is not nanotechnology.
 
2013-08-27 07:55:17 PM

curtis_e_bare: This is not nanotechnology.


Well, yes, it sort of is, in that it utilizes nanoscale materials and properties (Gold, and surface plasmon resonance)
 
2013-08-27 07:59:10 PM

Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.


Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?
 
2013-08-27 08:10:04 PM

sno man: Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.

Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?


RTFA. They did duplicate it.
 
2013-08-27 08:19:42 PM
The particles were probably made by rubbing them with the fingers or something else soft and smooth in a bath of water.  Particle size would be very small, but your distribution would not be easy to control unless you mechanized the process to control for abrasion pressure and speed. Mechanical abrasion would be the only known method of making colloidal gold, to my knowledge, due to aqua regia not yet being discovered.
 
2013-08-27 08:21:02 PM

buckler: sno man: Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.

Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?

RTFA. They did duplicate it.


I did, and they didn't.  They did find all kinds of neat things, many with some pretty cool real world eventual applications, (especially fond of the spill a little of your 'water' on this... okay you can bring that on board.  And the potential pathogen one) but they didn't duplicate that cup's glass, yet.
 
2013-08-27 08:29:25 PM
So apparently ancient Romans were growers, not showers?
 
2013-08-27 08:53:37 PM

TheShavingofOccam123: Quintillius Varus, give me back my nano-technology!!1!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzXWnBU3ZLM

/enjoy the earworm


Oh holy shiat.  I'm a classicist and I can't believe I've never seen that.
 
2013-08-27 09:13:44 PM
Electroplating with a Baghdad battery is cooler.
 
2013-08-27 09:16:21 PM
robsmovievault.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-08-27 09:41:11 PM
upload.wikimedia.org
eh. oh.  na-no.

I misread the headline
 
2013-08-27 10:30:49 PM
Romulans?
 
2013-08-27 10:45:36 PM

cgraves67: That's interesting. The cup has different colors for what is inside it. Maybe this is the origins of legendary cups that would reveal poisons.


That was exactly what I thought after reading the article. I wonder if they could ever test it with the cup? The article stated that they couldn't put liquids in it.
 
2013-08-27 11:01:43 PM
Also, this cup isn't "the key" for trying to make surface plasmon resonance (The thing that *causes* the cup to look different colors depending on the liquid/salt concentration) sensors. Those have been in the works for a while.

They're also flipping sweet. We really are potentially VERY close to powerful, hand-held biosensors.
 
2013-08-27 11:40:54 PM

God Is My Co-Pirate: TheShavingofOccam123: Quintillius Varus, give me back my nano-technology!!1!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzXWnBU3ZLM

/enjoy the earworm

Oh holy shiat.  I'm a classicist and I can't believe I've never seen that.


I laughed my ass off at that. I had just finished re-watching I Clavdivs. I'd never heard of the Horrible Histories series before. I think a cereal company sponsored them.
 
2013-08-28 12:32:49 AM

cgraves67: That's interesting. The cup has different colors for what is inside it. Maybe this is the origins of legendary cups that would reveal poisons.


It wouldn't have to detect poisons.  All it would have to do is detect impurities.  As the article states, it would be light green if filled with water.  If you were the Emperor you could say, "Give me only pure water to drink."  If the cup is anything but light green, don't drink it.
 
2013-08-28 01:32:22 AM

Slaxl: But how did they do it? What do gold/silver particles at 50 nanometres look like? Smoke? Would they inhale it and blow it into the glass? Is this type of thing rare?

I have more questions.


I'm no expert, but I recently watched an excellent show on ancient glass makers on the Smithsonian channel.
The glass blowers dip the hot glass blob that is on the end of their blowing tube into gold dust and/or other minerals depending on the color desired. They then reheat it to high temperatures. The high heat breaks the gold down into smaller and smaller pieces (nano particles) which mix with the molten glass and are prevented from reforming larger particles when the glass cools.The tiny nano particles absorb/refract light differently than larger particles thus appearing red, instead of gold. Different mineral mixtures result in different colors. Not particularly rare, but was a closely guarded secret by ancient glass makers, just like alchemy was. It is how all the colored glass in cathedrals was produced. It can also be done by painting solutions onto glass sheets and heating. That is how the stained glass windows with multicolored single piece images were made.
 
2013-08-28 04:37:16 AM

Felgraf: *Guesses*: I guess gold nanospheres.

*Checks* Yep! Red stained glass. Nanospheres!

Slaxl: But how did they do it? What do gold/silver particles at 50 nanometres look like? Smoke? Would they inhale it and blow it into the glass? Is this type of thing rare?

I have more questions.

I'm  physics grad student, and my research focuses on nanophysics. I've actually *made* gold nanospheres, so I can try to answer your questions!

Gold nanospheres, when made, are in a solution, and are generally red-to-orange in color (depending on the size). This is due to the way they scatter light, from an effect called 'Surface Plasmon Resonance" which is actually not NEARLY as difficult to explain as it sounds. (Basically they heavily absorb red light).

While I do not know how ti make red stained class, I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that they *didn't* dry this solution and make a powder-whe you do that, you tend not to have nanospheres/nanoparticles anymore. Nanoparticles are, unless they're capped/coated in something, inherently unstable: They tend to aggregate and clump back into bulk matter. If they'd tried drying it out,t hey'd have just wound up with a gold-colored dust.

Thus, I suspect they simple doused the molten glass *in* this nanosphere solution.  I suspect looking up the history of making red stained glass would tell you.

And while I don't know the history of gold nanospheres off the top of my head, I can tell you *making* them is actually piss-easy.
The steps are as follows:
1) Mix Nitric and Hydrochloric acid in a 1-3 ratio (this creates aqua regia, an acid mixture capable of, well, dissolving gold).

2) Dissolve gold.

3) Now boil away all the acid: What you're left with is Hydro-ChloroAuric Acid, sometimes called 'gold salts'. It is INSANELY hydrophillic (probably not the right term), to the point that it will literally dissolve from the moisture in the air via sucking it *out* of the air. It's a biatch and a half to keep it from liquifying (We want it ...


Fascinating. Thank you.

And thanks everyone else who responded. Been an interesting thread to catch up on this morning.
 
2013-08-28 04:46:24 AM
So both girls could see the cup in a different colour depending on lighting?
 
2013-08-28 05:40:41 AM

Felgraf: Any questions, or clarifications, and I'd be happy to try and answer!


img.myconfinedspace.com
 
2013-08-28 07:11:33 AM

maniacbastard: Felgraf: Any questions, or clarifications, and I'd be happy to try and answer!

[333x443 from http://img.myconfinedspace.com/wp-content/uploads/tdomf/145756/are%20y ou%20a%20wizard.jpg image 333x443]


Sometimes working with nanophysics/nanoparticles makes me feel that way.

"FARK! Why isn't this synthesis working! It was working last week, and I'm literally doing everything exactly the same way! Jesus, do I need to sacrifice a chicken or... oh. Okay, the humidity in the lab is 5% higher. Seriously? *THAT'S* what's messing it up?"

/I swear to god it feels like witchcraft sometimes.
 
2013-08-28 08:46:13 AM

sno man: Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.

Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?


I'm willing to bet that outside of a few guilds people 16 hundreds of years ago wouldn't be able to replicate it either.

Not every gimmick once discovered and then forgotten is a Marvel of the Ancients. In 500 years people will wonder how we managed to do stuff that got replaced by other techniques to get similar effects. Or simply went out of fashion.
 
2013-08-28 09:57:17 AM

5monkeys: cgraves67: That's interesting. The cup has different colors for what is inside it. Maybe this is the origins of legendary cups that would reveal poisons.

That was exactly what I thought after reading the article. I wonder if they could ever test it with the cup? The article stated that they couldn't put liquids in it.


This would be great for coctail glasses.  Have them to where they change color if someone spikes them with a drug such as Rohypnol.
 
2013-08-28 10:02:30 AM
I wonder if it was possible to tell if liquids contained poisons with the chalice.
 
2013-08-28 10:14:14 AM

DerAppie: sno man: Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.

Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?

I'm willing to bet that outside of a few guilds people 16 hundreds of years ago wouldn't be able to replicate it either.

Not every gimmick once discovered and then forgotten is a Marvel of the Ancients. In 500 years people will wonder how we managed to do stuff that got replaced by other techniques to get similar effects. Or simply went out of fashion.


[snerk]
50 years if the Tea Party ever gets to be in charge.
[/snerk]
 
2013-08-28 11:08:24 AM

Felgraf: curtis_e_bare: This is not nanotechnology.

Well, yes, it sort of is, in that it utilizes nanoscale materials and properties (Gold, and surface plasmon resonance)


No, it most certainly is not.  To be considered nanotechnology it needs to involve addressing or manipulating individual nano-sized items.  A bulk container of nano-sized objects is not nanotechnology.  My glass of water is not a glass of nanotechnology just because the water molecules are nano.

/Did PhD in molecular electronics nanotechnology.
 
2013-08-28 12:20:20 PM

BarleyGnome: I wonder if it was possible to tell if liquids contained poisons with the chalice.


Why would you need to?  The poison is in the flagon with the dragon.
 
2013-08-28 02:17:05 PM

sno man: buckler: sno man: Cybernetic: Here's what I learned on a trip to Venice when I was 15 (we got a tour of a glass factory):

Red glass is made with gold and selenium
Blue glass is made with cobalt
Green glass is made with copper

They weren't more specific than that, and I'm not a chemist, but they've been doing it that way for literally hundreds of years.

Pretty cool they worked this light/colour trick out 16 hundreds of years ago, and we still can't duplicate it, hunh?

RTFA. They did duplicate it.

I did, and they didn't.  They did find all kinds of neat things, many with some pretty cool real world eventual applications, (especially fond of the spill a little of your 'water' on this... okay you can bring that on board.  And the potential pathogen one) but they didn't duplicate that cup's glass, yet.


Where are you getting that from?

The article simply says they weren't allowed to pour anything into an ancient historical artifact, so they reproduced the effect on a plastic base instead of glass.

There was nothing in the article that says we don't currently know how they did it, the entire thing is precisely the opposite, that we know exactly how they did it, we know the exact size of nanoparticles required, and that basically we just never thought to to use the tech in this fashion.
 
2013-08-28 02:45:49 PM
This is... really cool. o.o

i1182.photobucket.com
 
2013-08-28 06:38:48 PM
It is nanotechnology.
We've known how to duplicate it for years.
Faraday made gold hydrosols...you can still visit them.
Won't work to detect poison in a drinking glass. WILL work for ultrasensitive (fmol) detection of molecules though, if you have a spectrometer.

I have undergrad students make these in p-chem.  It's not rocket science, but yeah, seemingly random crap can affect the outcome and synthesis. (Oh, the changed the relative percent composition on your glassware, nah... not gonna work).

old news is old.

/PhD in bioanalytical applications of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles.
 
2013-08-28 06:44:39 PM

DerAppie: In 500 years people will wonder how we managed to do stuff that got replaced by other techniques to get similar effects. Or simply went out of fashion.


Like...how to make engines for moon rockets and such?
 
2013-08-28 06:46:59 PM
 
2013-08-28 07:42:28 PM

curtis_e_bare: /Did PhD in molecular electronics nanotechnology.


Annnddd I'm getting my PhD in Nanophysics.
 
2013-08-28 10:48:54 PM

Felgraf: curtis_e_bare: /Did PhD in molecular electronics nanotechnology.

Annnddd I'm getting my PhD in Nanophysics.


Then you should probably learn what is and what is not nanotechnology before your defence.

das224: It is nanotechnology.

/PhD in bioanalytical applications of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles.


So is my glass of water nanotechnology?  How about beta-carotene?  The chromophores responsible for the colour are all nanoscale.

Simply having something nanoscale does not make it nanotechnology.  When the buzzword "nanotechnology" first became hot and funding agencies were handing out money for research suddenly every scientist and their dog were researching nanotechnology. Colloid chemists claimed to be because colloids are nanoscale, likewise with biochemists because hey, proteins are small.  Organic chemists, you bet they were applying for nanotech money because their molecules are tiny too.  Having something small does not automatically make it nanotechnology.  You need to be able to manipulate or individually address the nanoscale items.  Colloids dispersed in bulk material do not fit with any but the most naive definitions of nanotechnology.  And if you chose to believe this definition then nanotechnology is as old human civilization.

http://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101/what/definition

"Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules"
 
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