A Marriage of Nanotech and Biotech

Harvard chemistry professor George Whitesides' latest quest is getting tiny nonliving structures to assemble themselves

When he was a teenager in Louisville, Ky., George Whitesides spent his summers washing glassware at the chemistry lab of his father's company, which made materials used to repair concrete. All those beakers and pipettes needed to be cleaned for the next day's experiments. And amidst all the grunt work -- Whitesides remembers pouring coal tar through holes to measure how long it took to seep through -- he "got to see how technology development worked."

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