Scientists Grow Microscale Hairy Materials

Posted on February 4, 2014

Microscale Hairy Materials

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed a technique to grow tiny microscale hairy materials. A tiny 100 micrometer forest (diameter the width of a single human hair) is pictured above.

To create the hairy materials the scientists add epoxy to a mixture of hardener and solvent inside an electric cell. When an alternating current is run through the cell the hairy fibers spring up almost immediately.

Microscale hairy materials in mushroom-like shape

The researchers say they can grow different shapes using the method including long branching strands and mushrooms with pearls at the tips. The scientists can also instantly reverse the process. Take a look:

"Hairy" materials are valuable because they can provide a lot of surface areaa. They can also be used to create a superhydrophobic surface, a surface that repels water. Scientists say the materials could be useful in next-generation energy technologies, including better batteries.

A research paper on the new technique was published here in Nature Communications.

Photos: Arnaud Demortiere, Alexey Snezhko and Igor Aronson