Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart materials: Fused liquid marbles show their strength

01.08.2013
A superglue polymerisation strategy that fortifies encapsulated ‘liquid marble’ water droplets also strengthens their market potential

‘Liquid marbles’ are a peculiar new substance made by rolling water droplets into powders incapable of dissolving in water. The resulting micro- and nanoscale-particles act like soft solids, and can speed along surfaces without leaving water marks.

Such non-stick, hydrophobic behaviour has potential application in drug-delivery and microfluidic technology. However, liquid marbles suffer from erratic structures prone to collapse. Jia Min Chin, Jianwei Xu and co-workers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, and Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, have now developed a scheme to stabilise liquid marbles quickly and safely using vapours from ordinary superglue[1].

Many powders used to make liquid marbles are based on metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), a type of crystal in which metal ions are interspersed with rigid organic molecules. Chin, Xu and co-workers investigated whether MOFs known as NH2-MIL-53(Al), a combination of aluminium atoms and amino-phenyl compounds, could grow directly on the surfaces of alumina micro-particles.

This approach, the team theorised, might provide extra structural control over liquid marble stability. After confirming MOF growth with x-ray measurements, the team modified the micro-particles with either hydrocarbon or fluorocarbon chains, converting them into ‘superhydrophobic’ powders. Then, they produced alumina-supported liquid marbles by adding micro-sized water droplets.

The researchers found that their new liquid marbles had greater stability than usual, thanks to its reactive amino groups and high surface roughness. Yet, they sought to further boost its resilience. When they spotted small gaps between the MOF–alumina micro-particles with scanning electron microscopy, they inferred that certain gas molecules might enter these pores and create a cross-linked network through a process called air–liquid interfacial polymerisation.

Forensic scientists often use superglue vapours to uncover fingerprints at crime scenes; the trace water in finger smudges reacts rapidly with adhesive fumes and generates visible polymer structures. Taking a cue from this method, the team exposed their MOF–alumina liquid marble to superglue vapours in a Petri dish and saw a rigid polymer casing form within a few minutes. Chin notes that this procedure requires no heat, UV radiation, or chemical initiators — an unprecedented finding for liquid marble encapsulation. “Furthermore, the only solvent required was water, qualifying this as a ‘green’ reaction,” she adds.

The liquid marble retained its unique non-wetting behaviour on surfaces, even with the protective polymer coating. These stabilising attributes promise big dividends in areas such as gas purification and personal care products: two patents have already been filed this year in efforts to commercialise this technology.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c2cc37081f

Associated links
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/6715

A*STAR Research | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/6715
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State

nachricht Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>