Steven Colman looks into the camera as he holds a very small silicone memory chip which he will study at the JSNN.

Steven Coleman has big ideas for a tiny medium.

Coleman works with nanotechnology, which he plans to harness to make protoypes of futuristic-sounding devices like biosensors, solar cells and virtual reality keyboards. He is pursuing a PhD in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering  run by UNCG and NC A&T.

I always underestimated it, but creativity is coming to be quite an asset. We should design a course called Technical Dreaming.

“Nanotechnology has a lot of things it can do. What can it do for you?” Coleman wants to know.

He and his partners plan to create a company — Nano Fab Lab — that would build prototypes. To do so they would chemically treat tiny carbon nanotubes, “functionalizing” them for different purposes. The charge the tubes carry, whether positive or negative, is the key to their performance, he says.

Nanoscientists manipulate matter at dimensions of approximately 1-100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. Unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties can emerge in materials at the nanoscale.

Coleman has long seen nanotechnology as the “future.” He studied at Virginia Tech and NC State, finishing his master’s at A&T.

Coleman worked in product creation and animation for years, utilizing resources at universities such as the University of California at Berkeley. He stepped back a bit to raise his son after his wife died.

Now the Greensboro native is back at home, encouraged by North Carolina’s strong production and manufacturing base. And he’s glad to be dreaming again.

“I always underestimated it, but creativity is coming to be quite an asset,” he says. “We should design a course called Technical Dreaming.”

Coleman also looks forward to working with younger scientists, “mixing with young minds.” His son, a middle school student, is already testing at college level — and interested in science.

“He wants to be a young scientist and play basketball,” Coleman says. “He’s a double threat.”

Photography By Chris English, University Relations