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Home  > Raw materials & technologies  > Technologies  > How polymer furs grow self-organized

Wednesday, 12 December 2018
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies

How polymer furs grow self-organized

Monday, 19 November 2018

Researchers at KIT's Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG), the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have developed a simple and cost-effective process that allows polymer furs to grow in a self-organized manner.

At the feet of geckos there are millions of hairs that enable them to adhere to surfaces and quickly detach themselves from them. The reproduction of such surfaces from synthetic materials opens up new perspectives for various applications. Source: Skitterphoto / Pixabay.
At the feet of geckos there are millions of hairs that enable them to adhere to surfaces and quickly detach themselves from them. The reproduction...

In the journal "Science", scientists led by Professor Joerg Lahann, head of the Department of New Polymers and Biomaterials at the IFG and director of the Biointerfaces Institute at the University of Michigan, present the new process: First, they wet a carrier with a thin layer of liquid crystals - substances that are both liquid and have direction-dependent properties that are otherwise used primarily for screens and displays (Liquid Crystal Displays - LCDs). After application, the liquid crystal layer is vaporised with activated molecules. These reactive monomers penetrate the liquid crystal layer and grow from the substrate into the liquid in the form of fine fibers.

Application for biological detectors, bioinductive surfaces and coatings

The result are polymer nanofibers that can be tailored in length, diameter, shape and arrangement. The complex but precisely structured polymer furs they form are interesting for many different applications, especially for biological detectors and bioinstructive surfaces interacting with their environment, and for coatings with novel properties. This also includes surfaces with similar dry adhesion properties as gecko feet, where the adhesion of nanofibers is based on a special spatial arrangement of the atoms in the molecules.

The study is published in: Science, 2018, Vol. 362, Issue 6416, pp. 804-808.

Image source: Pixabay

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