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Wednesday, March 13


Hans Fischer carries both the scientist and artist within him.  With a strong creative streak, a restless mind, and obsessive intent he could have gone far in the art world but instead chose materials engineering.  An early interest in light alloys for use in bicycles and a desire to understand the sharpening and tempers of tools for wood carving made the study of smelting and metallurgy appealing.  This beginning launched him towards a PhD in biomedical engineering, centred around how the body interacts with materials (knee replacements, dental implants). Fischer's focus was nanoparticles, specifically cadmium selenide quantum dots.  

In simple terms, quantum dots are light-emitting nanoparticles. What makes them so exciting to me is that depending on their size, they will emit light in different colours.  You can watch a video here outlining the process.  Fischer was working towards using them for a contrast agent in medical imaging.  They promise to be useful for solar cells and to alter the colour of LED lights. (Here is an answer to our light bulb problem!) He described the  process of optimizing the synthesis of these particles as "three years of tuning my intuition." In the corners of science that deal with the abstract and invisible, perhaps the rational mind must make room for insane creativity.

After recently finishing two years at a medical device company as a research and development engineer, Fischer is thinking of a post doc in immunology, studying the use of nanoparticles as vaccines.  I'm sure whatever his next project is, it will be rooted in deciphering how materials function, interact with their environment, and push the limits of the tangible.

You might catch Fischer playing his violin (maybe the one he made) with the Hart House Orchestra (U of T).

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