Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Can You Hear the Femur Play? Bone Audio Speakers at the Nanoscale

Chapple, Boo

Journal Information:
Vol. 41, Num. 4


Using the piezoelectric nature of the bone matrix as an audio source, Chaple set out to discover the sounds of the nanoscale. The idea here was not simply to study or scientifically reproduce the sounds that charges made as they passed between cells, but to artistically capture this phenomenon to experience the intersections of art, life and world at the nanoscale by eavesdropping on regenerating bone material. Chapple details the difficulties in not just preparing the cow femurs used for the experiment but in finding instruments sensitive enough to detect the movements in the bones collagen without being influenced by environmental noise or conditions; not until Wong constructed a Michaelson laser interferometer did the two have any success in hearing the bones, though they could still detect no audible sound. It was a stethoscope placed under the bone that finally allowed Chapple to really hear the cells sounds, which brought him to his goal of defamiliarization, not just of the bone but of the stethoscope and the human ear as well.