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Researchers grow artificial hairs with clever physics trick
by Staff Writers
Princeton NJ (SPX) Feb 24, 2021

Princeton researchers found they could spin liquid elastic polymers on a disc to form the kinds of intricate hair-like shapes needed to create biomimetic surfaces.

Things just got hairy at Princeton. Researchers found they could coat a liquid elastic on the outside of a disc and spin it to form useful, complex patterns. When spun just right, tiny spindles rise from the material as it cures. The spindles grow as the disc accelerates, forming a soft solid that resembles hairs.

Inspired by biological designs and rationalized with mathematical precision, the new method could be used at an industrial scale for production with plastics, glasses, metals and smart materials.

The researchers published their findings on Feb. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their technique draws on fairly simple physics but turns an old set of engineering problems into a new manufacturing solution. The method's simplicity, cheaper and more sophisticated than conventional molds, comes as part of a major shift toward additive manufacturing.

It also promises to play a key role in developing robotic sensing capabilities and in surfaces that mimic biological patterns - the hairs on a spider leg or on a lotus leaf - deceptively simple structures that provide essential life functions.

"Such patterns are ubiquitous in nature," said Pierre-Thomas Brun, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton and the study's principal investigator. "Our approach leverages the way these structures form naturally."

Research paper

Related Links
Princeton University, Engineering School
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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Sloshing quantum fluids of light and matter to probe superfluidity
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 17, 2021
The 'sloshing' of a quantum fluid comprised of light and matter reveals superfluid properties. An Australian-led team of physicists have successfully created sloshing quantum liquids in a 'bucket' formed by containment lasers. "These quantum fluids are expected to be as wavy as the oceans, but catching clear pictures of the waves is an experimental challenge," says lead author Dr Eliezer Estrecho. Led by the Australian National University (ANU), the team serendipitously observed the wa ... read more

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