Researchers grow artificial hairs with clever physics trick

Princeton researchers found they could spin liquid elastic polymers on a disc to form the kinds of intricate hair-like shapes needed to create biomimetic surfaces.
Image courtesy P.-T. Brun

Things just got hairy at Princeton.

Researchers found they could coat a liquid elastic on the outside of a disc and spin it to form useful, complex patterns. When spun just right, tiny spindles rise from the material as it cures. The spindles grow as the disc accelerates, forming a soft solid that resembles hairs.

Inspired by biological designs and rationalized with mathematical precision, the new method could be used at an industrial scale for production with plastics, glasses, metals and smart materials.

The researchers published their findings on Feb. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their technique draws on fairly simple physics but turns an old set of engineering problems into a new manufacturing solution. The method’s simplicity, cheaper and more sophisticated than conventional molds, comes as part of a major shift toward additive manufacturing.

It also promises to play a key role in developing robotic sensing capabilities and in surfaces that mimic biological patterns — the hairs on a spider leg or on a lotus leaf — deceptively simple structures that provide essential life functions.

“Such patterns are ubiquitous in nature,” said Pierre-Thomas Brun, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton and the study’s principal investigator. “Our approach leverages the way these structures form naturally.”

###

The paper’s authors also include Etienne Jambon-Puillet, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, and Matthieu Royer Piéchaud, formerly of Princeton. This work was partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DMR-1420541) through the Princeton Center for Complex Materials.

Media Contact

Pierre-Thomas Brun
pbrun@princeton.edu
609-258-2620

 @eprinceton

http://engineering.princeton.edu/ 

Media Contact

Pierre-Thomas Brun
Princeton University, Engineering School

All news from this category: Materials Sciences

Materials management deals with the research, development, manufacturing and processing of raw and industrial materials. Key aspects here are biological and medical issues, which play an increasingly important role in this field.

innovations-report offers in-depth articles related to the development and application of materials and the structure and properties of new materials.

Back to the Homepage

Comments (0)

Write comment

Latest posts

Chemists create renewable plant-based polymers

What makes them different is that they can be easily recycled. Researchers at the Laboratory of Cluster Catalysis at St Petersburg University have synthesised polymers from biomass. What makes them…

Atom interferometry demonstrated in space for the first time

Researchers present results of experiments with atom interferometry on a sounding rocket / Further rocket missions set to follow. Extremely precise measurements are possible using atom interferometers that employ the…

Ocean bacteria release carbon into the atmosphere

Research could help scientists better estimate Earth’s carbon budget. A team led by University of Minnesota researchers has discovered that deep-sea bacteria dissolve carbon-containing rocks, releasing excess carbon into the…

Partners & Sponsors