Figure I19

An image of "NANO USA" inscribed by IBM researchers on a sheet of copper using 112 carbon monoxide molecules. (Image reproduced with permission of ASTM International.)

It is notable that the production of the Osaka Bull was not an isolated event. In the spirit of competition that frequently exists among scientific groups, researchers at IBM responded by using the technique of molecular-beam epitaxy to inscribe "NANO USA" and "IBM" with carbon monoxide molecules on copper sheeting (Figure I.19). Molecular-beam epitaxy is a process often used in nanotechnology to control the placement of individual atoms or molecules. After causing a molecule to stick to a surface, it can be moved by using "photonic tweezers"—again a pair of lasers, but in this instance used to apply light pressure to move the molecules.

Indeed, there have been a number of reports of nanotechnology companies now attempting to exploit a symbiosis between scientists and artists. The idea of scientist-artist collaborations is not a new one; there have been examples of such collaborations throughout history. The value of such collaborations is that artists and scientists often have different ways of looking at the physical world. By providing an environment in which they may exchange their views synergistically with each other, they are able to make much greater advances than either could alone. Indeed, some of the most significant achievements in history have been made by people who were accomplished both as scientists and as artists, Leonardo da Vinci probably being the most renowned.

Recognizing this potential for synergy, a number of nanotechnology companies have begun employing artists to work alongside scientists. Under such arrangements, it seems inevitable that at least some nanotechnology structures that they develop will include artistic features that may be distinguished from the purely utilitarian aspects of the structures. It is these aspects of the structures that will be entitled to copyright protection as structural works.

What about other categories? There are, of course a significant number of other categories of works that are entitled to copyright protection in addition to sculptural works. It is interesting to speculate whether any of these other categories might provide a basis for asserting copyright for nanotech creations.

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