Creating new materials with potential biomedical applications by manipulating liquid plastic droplets
Droplets are normally a menace to manufacturing – from architecture to engineering to cooking, dribbles forming where they shouldn’t have unpredictable effects. Here, scientists are showing drops of liquid plastic who’s boss – forcing them into patterns that may change our lives. Drops form after a tug-of-war between surface tension – the 'stickiness' of a surface – and gravity. Playing with these competing forces, by spinning these coated discs at different speeds, grows or shrinks the plastic drops (coloured purple). Changing the patterns etched into the surfaces leaves them clinging on in precise designs – some mimicking biological phenomena like the tiny ciliary carpets of hairs found in our airways. Creating such 'soft materials' usually requires expensive moulds, but here a quick spin may create structures to help deliver drugs, or support tissues inside our bodies.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
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