Self-Assembly of Hexagonal Rods Based on Capillary Forces

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Self-Assembly of Hexagonal Rods Based on Capillary Forces

Authors: Scott R. J. Oliver, Ned Bowden, and George M. Whitesides.

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 224, 425–428 (2000)

Soft matter keywords

self-assembly, capillarity, mesostructures., hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity


By Alex Epstein


Abstract from the original paper

A series of well-ordered, extended mesostructures has been generated from hexagonal polyurethane rods (15£3.2 mm) by selfassembly using capillary forces. The surface of one or more sides of the rods was rendered hydrophilic by exposure to an oxygen plasma. This modification determined the pattern of hydrophobic and hydrophilic faces; the hydrophobic sides were coated with a thin film of a hydrophobic lubricant. Agitation of the rods in an approximately isodense aqueous environment resulted in their self-assembly, in a process reflecting the action of capillary forces, into an array whose structure depends on the pattern of hydrophobic sides; capillarity also aligned the ends of the rods. We also carried out experiments in reaction chambers that restricted the motion of the rods; this restriction served to increase the size and regularity of the assemblies.

Soft matter example

It may appear at first like stacking pencils in water, but this paper reports notable advances in the control of 3-dimensional self-assembly on the mesoscale (that is, intermediate between micro and macro). The system of molded hexagonal rods with a certain number of sides treated for hydrophilicity/phobicity is both experimentally practical and elegant.