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June 28th, 2007
Tiny plastic fibers could be the key to some diverse technologies in the future -- including self-cleaning surfaces, transparent electronics, and biomedical tools that manipulate strands of DNA.
In the June issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Ohio State University researchers describe how they created surfaces that, seen with the eye, look as flat and transparent as a sheet of glass. But seen up close, the surfaces are actually carpeted with tiny fibers.
[New, invisible nano-fibers conduct electricity, repel dirt]
A drop of water balances perfectly on a plastic surface invented by researchers at Ohio State University. The surface is covered with microscopic fibers, and can be made to attract or repel water. The surface shown here is water repellant, so the drop can't spread out along the surface; instead, it retains its spherical shape. Credit: Photo by Jo McCulty, courtesy of Ohio State University
The patent-pending technology involves a method for growing a bed of fibers of a specific length, and using chemical treatments to tailor the fibers' properties, explained Arthur J. Epstein, Distinguished University Professor of chemistry and physics and director of the university's Institute for Magnetic and Electronic Polymers.
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