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Researchers Create New Method for Nanofiber

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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A discovery out of the University of Michigan could lead to a new coatings from an array of nanofibers—from sticky, to repellent, to insulating, to light-emitting.

What Happened

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s chemical engineering department, as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison (supported by the Army Research Office), made the discovery while experimenting with chain-like molecules (polymers) on top of liquid crystals. They were trying to make sensors that could detect single molecules, according to the university.

University of Michigan

A discovery out of the University of Michigan could lead to a new coatings from an array of nanofibers—from sticky, to repellent, to insulating, to light-emitting.

In the experiment, one group was evaporating single links in the chain and coaxing them to condense on surfaces. The polymer films, didn’t materialize as expected though, and instead of coating on top of the crystals, the links slipped into the fluid and connected with each other.

“A liquid crystal is a relatively disordered fluid, yet it can template the formation of nanofibers with remarkably well-defined lengths and diameters,” said Nicholas Abbott, who was a professor of chemical engineering at Madison during the experiment.

As a result, the researchers discovered a new method for making arrays of nanofibers, and say it could lead to developing coatings that mimic some of the "super powers found in nature," such as how a polar bear’s hair lets light in while insulating heat; how lotus leaves are water-repellent and how the bottoms of a gecko’s feet are sticky.

“Fundamentally, this is a completely different way of making nanofiber arrays,” said Joerg Lahann, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Michigan and the author of the study that appeared in Science.

   

Tagged categories: AF; AS; Asia Pacific; Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Latin America; NA; Nanotechnology; North America; OC; Research and development; SA

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