Unit Cell


Prof. Ben Whitacker | Mike Nix | Dominic Hopkinson | Lawrence Molloy.

In Unit Cell, the process of x-Ray crystallography is made visible on a large scale, and helps to show how the crystal lattice of materials can be mapped and then analysed by bouncing x-Rays off the individual atoms. The sculpture is a suspended array of 125 beach balls in a cubic lattice, each ball representing an individual atom. A sound of a particular frequency, which represents the x-Rays, is directed into this lattice, bouncing around and being projected out of the lattice. As the sound waves emerge from the sculpture their waves either cancel each other out and make a zone of quiet, or amplify each other and make a zone of noise.

As the audience moves around the sculpture they enter into the zones of noise and quiet, and are able to experience the diffraction pattern for themselves. This diffraction pattern in the x-Rays in crystallography is what enables the structure of the atomic lattice to be calculated. The effect of the sound around the sculpture acts at a distance of tens of metres and is fully three dimensional as a sound field.

Unit Cell was conceived and designed during the ASMbly arts, science, maker laboratory in Leeds (Sept 16-21, 2013) by members of The Superposition collective and the piece has since been commissioned as a permanent work by DESY, the German Electron Synchotron at Hamburg University.


Bragg Centenary | Leeds University | UK | 2014

DESY (Electron Synchotron) | Hamburg| Germany | Nov 15


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