High School sophomore Nicole Dressler combined her scientific skills, artisticability and imagination to become one of only 20 semifinalists nationwide in the Generation Nano Competition.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the competition requires high school students to design nanotechnology-enabled gear for an original superhero. They must choose a societal area to focus on and propose gear that is grounded in current research but not yet possible, allowing them to learn about the potentials and limitations of real-world nanotechnology.

Participants were required to draft a short story about their superhero, and provide the scientific application of nanotechnology used, create a two- or three-page comic strip and a 90-second video.

Nicole created a superhero called Blu Light, which combined Bluetooth technology with miniaturized lasers and metal cutting technology. The societal mission of Blu Light is Nanotechnology for Justice. Blu Light is the public superhero, but in everyday life, she is known as Cassidy Green, a surgeon who saves lives with miniature lasers originally designed for microsurgeries. She shrunk the surgical technology into a laser weapon that she can wear on her wrist.

Nicole participates in Robotics and Odyssey of the Mind competitions and excels in the high school’s science research program. Her excellent research skills played a role in her success, as the competition is graded 50 percent on the science of the nanotechnology chosen.

Top scientists and comic book creators will determine which semifinalists move to the final round. Finalists will be chosen by a "People’s Choice" vote through the Generation Nano website.