Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nanofibers Hold Microscopic Ball

Behold this remarkable photo of a 10 micron long epoxy fibers (0.15 micron apart from each other), holding a 2.5 micron polystyrene sphere. The entire assembly was immersed in water, and as the water is withdrawn, the capillary forces caused the fibers to grab the ball and hold it.

This is from Harvard's Aizenberg, and it was published in 9 January's Science Magazine (323 p237ff). The article is light on experimental details and long on bio-mimetic jibberish. The image is great to look at, but don't forget that it is an SEM, and some artist at C&E News added the blue color to the ball.

I think it is interesting that they were able to make these structures, and even more interesting to think about how much the adhesion of the surface is enhanced by having these threadlike structures. It would be great to be able to make practical materials with these little filaments on them. There would be many practical uses.