From an early age, I always thought of myself as a left-brained person, meaning that my analytical thinking was more dominant than my creative. However, as I immersed myself into the sciences, I began to form connections between the analytical and the creative. In the materials I synthesized, I started seeing beautiful patterns, different shapes and morphologies, and a wide variety of colours. The idea of having one side of my brain being more dominant than the other slowly started drifting away and I, was not only making advances in my research but, was also making advances with parts of myself I had neglected.
Microscopic kaleidoscope was created with the use of a microscope and was one of the first single crystals of my own MOFs that I observed under a microscope. I was amazed by the beauty of the hexagons, all unique yet all the same. With the presence of light, different coloured reflections appeared. In a conventional kaleidoscope, the mirrors in the optical device reflect repetitive images forming interesting geometric designs. In the same way, by looking through the lens of the microscope, I can see the repetitive distribution of the hexagonal metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), and although they don’t have a symmetrical design, every MOF has its preferred way of being, either standing where we can see its side planes, or laying down where we have the top view. In the same way showing me that not everything is set to be one way, but a different possibility of ways. With science, we can get informative art, which may not be what we are conventionally used to, but it still holds true to the fact that just like art, we observe and create, revealing beauty in different ways.
When I created this art, I was a master’s student in chemistry working under the supervision of Dr. Howarth at Concordia University. My research was focused on MOFs, and particularly their synthesis and characterization. Using solvothermal synthesis and the concept of reticular design, I was able to grow beautiful single crystals of my novel MOF. Since then, I have grown different rare earth analogues of this MOF, termed RE-CU-27, and have observed them under the microscopic lens. What never ceases to amaze me is that although the constituents of the material are different, they still have the same morphology, but all have their own uniqueness, and we essentially observe the same art.
I would like to thank the organizers of ChemiSTEAM, Louise Dawe, Vance Williams and Brian Wagner, as well as Kim Cormack, CIC Manager, Membership, Communications and Marketing, and Allison Kerns, CIC’s Communications Coordinator, for featuring me in the CIC NEWS to share my crystals in the form scientific art.