Tiny Fiber Materials Self-Assemble at the Microscale

Argonne National Laboratory scientists have developed a new technique to grow tiny hair-like materials that assemble themselves at the microscale. The key ingredient is epoxy, which is added to a mixture of hardener and solvent inside an electric cell. Then the scientists run an alternating current through the cell and watch long, twisting fibers spring up. Scientists are very interested in materials with tiny fibers for technologies like batteries, photovoltaic cells, and sensors. For one, hair-like materials offer up a lot of surface area. Many chemical reactions depend on two surfaces making contact with one another, so a structure that exposes a lot of surface area will speed the process along. Micro-size hairs can also make a surface that repels water or dust.