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Quick and Easy Way to Precisely Wrinkle Materials

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:15AM

There are several examples in nature of how a surface can determine important properties of something. The pads on a gecko's feet have special hairs that allow them to cling to any surface and lotus leafs have a structure to repel water. Recreating these features on other materials is not easy to do because the fabrication methods are often complex or are limited in area they can operate on. Researchers at MIT however found a way to precisely wrinkle materials in just a few steps.

The researchers found they could bond the material to a stretched substrate using initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) and then release the stretched material to create the wrinkles. By releasing the stress of the substrate in one direction before the other, the researchers found it is possible to design the angle, size, and spacing of the wrinkles with great accuracy. This accuracy is so great in fact that a material's thickness and stiffness could be determined by measuring the wrinkles.

Such control over the surface of a material, the researchers are able to make surfaces adhesive at will or change their wettability, making them hydrophobic or hydrophilic. This could also be used for creating lab-on-a-chip devices which require precise and small channels to manipulate and measure molecules.

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