Flexible nanoparticle film generation
University of South Carolina scientists have developed an innovative “misuse” of magnetic recording technology with intriguing possibilities. The technology is conventionally used for data storage; the new application fabricates sophisticated materials by modifying individual nanoparticles. Employing a technique called Pattern Transfer Nanomanufacturing, physicist Thomas Crawford and his team have transformed the “disk” from a disk drive into a reprogrammable template. They first suspend magnetic nanoparticles in a liquid known as a ferrofluid. Once they coat the disk with ferrofluid, they pull the nanoparticles to the surface using a magnetic field. When the nanoparticles have assembled into place, the team removes the fluid and finishes the disk surface with a liquid polymer. They then peel the cured solid polymer from the disk to yield a flexible and transparent film that contains the patterned nanoparticles.
Crawford expects these films will find application in optics, biotechnology, and novel material surfaces that can be programmed for a variety of uses. Examples include manipulable surface films that enable selective light transmission and conductivity, thereby enhancing solar control or communications networks.
Contact: University of South Carolina Department of Physics and Astronomy, Columbia, SC, USA.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future