Catch the invisible

What does « see » mean to at the atomic scale? How do we capture and manipulate phenomena at the Nano scale ? Design students have been asked to work on this question together with physicists and designers. Some have created outreach tools at the frontier between design and popularization of science. Others have conducted a project inspired by science and its methods to create new design objects. Find out about their visions of the infinitesimal and invisible, somewhere between design, science and extension.

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The project

In recent years, the invention of new microscopes has allowed scientists to see and manipulate matter at infinitesimal levels. These new tools such as tunneling, atomic force or fluorescence microscopes, have revolutionized physics, chemistry and biology and offering a new view on our world


But what does “see” mean for a physicist at the scale of an atom compared to our usual perceptions? How to apprehend these gigantic scale changes? How to manipulate matter at the nanometer size? So many questions where the eye of designers can bring a new day.


In this project, twelve students were proposed to approach this broad topic with the supervision of both designers and physicists. Some have created educational and outreach tools in order to popularize science for the general public. Others have conducted personal researches inspired by science and its methods to create a design object.


This workshop is the fourth of its kind with the same science and design partners, after one on superconductivity, on quantum physics and on light. It’s developed this time in the framework of a research program ANR “DESCITECH” in collaboration with ENSCI –Les Ateliers and research labs, which aims to better understand what is at stake when physicists and designers work together and explore these new territories in between design, science and popularization of science.


From left to right 1st row : Léo, Julien, Véronica, Anne-Lyse, Aurore, Delphine 2nd row : François, Lucie, Miren, Laurène, Maëlys, Laure, Chloé 3rd row : André, Baptiste, Gaston, Chloé, Kensa, Paul, Clément


The project “Catch the invisible” is a partnership between the ENSCI-Les Ateliers and physicists from Université Paris Sud and CNRS. It was supported by the ANR Descitech.


Atelier Design et Recherche : François Azambourg, Baptiste Viala, Véronica Rodriguez
Associated researcher : Anne-Lyse Renon
Consultant : Delphine Chevrot
Photo teacher : Véronique Huyghe


Paul Bonlarron, Miren Etchegoin-Lasnier, Lucie Jeudy-Quinqueneau, Laure Koroma-Le Bras, Maëlys de La Ruée, Clément Rosenberg, Chloé Saksik, Kensa Traoré, Léo Verstiggel, Gaston Vidalie, André Zsigmondy, Laurène Zyskind


Université Paris-Sud/CNRS : Julien Bobroff