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molecular FSM

Published January 15th, 2009 by Bobby Henderson
harvardfsm1.jpg
Microscopic fibers coil together – photo cred. Aizenberg/Harvard. click for more.

What at first resembles a sea anemone clasping two pearls is really a micrometer-scale construct created through a new technique devised at Harvard University.

To make these objects, materials science professor Joanna Aizenberg, applied math professor L. Mahadevan, and colleagues fabricate an array of hairlike, epoxy fibers poking up from a substrate, which they then submerge in a liquid such as ethanol or tolulene. As the liquid evaporates, capillary forces cause the flexible hairs to clump and then twist together.

The ropelike structures formed can themselves twine with other ropes. “The process is similar to the formation of dreadlocks” from wet, curly hair, Aizenberg explains.

Sea anemone clasping pearls?

The above photo/excerpt came from Chemical & Engineering News.