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Paul Alivisatos Interview - How does science affect technology?

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For example, I started my research in the mid-1980’s working at Bell Laboratories, developing tiny crystals of semiconductors. And those, we thought at that time, might have some application one day in the electronics industry. 15 years later, we found that the tiny crystals we made... ...could be used to do imaging inside cells. We could take a tiny crystal that was small enough – the size of a protein – we could take that semiconductor and put it inside the cell... ...and use it there to image what was going on inside the cell. The truth was that when we started the work, we could never have guessed... ...that its application would turn out to be in biological imaging, ...or at least its first application. And yet today, those materials are used by biomedical researchers all over the world. They’re used almost certainly in any example where somebody gets a biopsy, to look at whether they potentially have a carcinogenic tumor. So they’re very widely used for that application but we could never have guessed it. And what it means is that science has this aspect of it which is... ... that is has its own types of questions, but very often the applications emerge naturally over time, even if you couldn’t have guessed them. This is a reason to try to think about applications but also to be patient... ...and just try to answer an interesting science question, and if you follow it through, eventually it will lead to some important applications, maybe even ones you wouldn’t have guessed.

Video Details

Duration: 1 minute and 37 seconds
Country: Sweden
Language: English
Producer: MoleClues TV
Director: Per Thoren
Views: 262
Posted by: locumele on Jan 18, 2010

Professor Paul Alivisatos interviewed for MoleClues. Entire interview available on

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