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Home > News > New State of Matter Seen in Clay

December 22nd, 2010

New State of Matter Seen in Clay

Abstract:
In the latest research, carried out over 7 years, physicist Barbara Ruzicka and of the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and colleagues have shown how an existing material—the synthetic clay Laponite, which is used as a thickener in many household products—can form a stable gel. The researchers suspended Laponite in water and used the powerful x-ray beams of ESRF to study how the structure of the suspension changes over time and how this evolution depends on the amount of clay present.

This finding has lots of potential applications, says Ruzicka. One is batteries containing a gel electrolyte, which would produce a relatively high power for a given weight of battery and which could be incorporated into microscopic devices if the gel could be made at a low enough density. Alternatively, equilibrium gels could be used as coatings to deliver drugs into the body. These coatings are needed to protect against the body's immune system and dissolve when the drug reaches its target, so making the coatings lighter would reduce the amount of material that ultimately ends up in the body.

Source:
sciencemag.org

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