When the first silicon chip was made, few envisioned that it would lead to smart phones. So pointed out Prof. Tobias Hanrath, material sciences and engineering, when discussing his and graduate student Kevin Whitham’s, work that could have applications ranging from improved electronic devices to helping solve the world’s energy crisis. What’s helping to potentially solve such big issues? The answer may not be big at all. Hanrath and Whitham’s work revolves around crystals called ‘quantum dots,’ which are so tiny that it would take about 200,000 dots to fit the width of a human hair.