by Staff Writers
New York NY (SPX) Jul 19, 2016
Taking a page from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", a team of scientists has created malleable and microscopic self-assembling particles that can serve as the next generation of building blocks in the creation of synthetic materials.
"Our work turns the tiniest of particles from inflexible, Lego-like pieces into ones that can transform themselves into a range of shapes," explains Stefano Sacanna, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Chemistry and the senior author of the paper, which appears in the journal Nature Communications.
"With the ability to change their contours, these particles mimic alterations that occur in nature."
The research focused on engineering particles a micrometer in width - about 1/200th the width of a strand of human hair.
Specifically, it aimed to enhance the adaptability of colloids - small particles suspended within a fluid medium. Such everyday items such as paint, milk, gelatin, glass, and porcelain are composed of colloidal dispersions, but it's their potential to control the flow of light that has scientists focused on creating exotic colloidal geometries.
By triggering specific morphological changes in the singular colloidal unit, the Sacanna group hopes to advance colloidal crystal engineering.
The scientists discovered that, much like Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians, metallic particles encased in oil droplets were tethered by many chemical bonds.
Breaking those tethers via a photocatalytic reaction - in which the absorption of light spurs a chemical response - caused the metallic particle to free itself, producing an overall shape change. In other words, shining a light on a simple crystal allowed the scientists to create a material that transforms its microstructure.
The study's other authors were: Mena Youssef and Theodore Hueckel, both NYU doctoral students, and Gi-Ra Yi, a professor at South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University.
New York University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|