Millions of Carbon Nanotubes Cluster to Express Chilling Message

Photo: Lambert/Getty Images

One dark and stormy night, Ph.D. student Ashley Kaiser was alone in the lab. [Some creative liberties have been taken.] The bats were swooping and the wind was howling. She was hard at work on her research on nanomaterials, specifically carbon nanotubes, which are, to quote this MIT News Office story, “each incredibly strong and only 1/10,000 the width of a human hair.”

She had been immersing millions of these nanotubes — which are also sometimes used in carbon fiber baseball bats and car parts — in a “guiding liquid,” and now her eerie research was complete (or getting there). She looked down into the microscope, and what she saw there raised the hairs on her neck, possibly.

Photo: Ashley Kaiser

Although Kaiser had been expecting the carbon nanotubes to form cell-like shapes, she had not been prepared for the fact “that these three particular sections would spell out ‘Boo’ so nicely, so it was a pretty special find,” she told the MIT News Office. “I thought that it would be great for Halloween the moment I saw it!”


The image was taken using a scanning electron microscope, and the orange was added in later, just for fun — or so they claim. More information on Kaiser’s work, which involves designing “high-performance hybrid materials” and helping “enable scalable nanomaterial manufacturing,” can also be found here. Thanks, Ashley!

Millions of Nanotubes Cluster to Express Chilling Message