Shape-Tunable Polymer Nanofibrillar Structures by Oblique Electron Beam Irradiation
Original entry: William Bonificio, AP 225, Fall 2009
Shape-Tunable Polymer Nanofibrillar Structures by Oblique Electron Beam Irradiation Tae-il Kim, Changhyun Pang, Kahp Y. Suh Langmuir 2009 25 (16), 8879-8882
Soft matter keywords
Shape tuning, nanofibrils, adhesion strength, nanovelcro
The researchers in this experiment were able to tune the shape of polymer nanofibrils using a very accessible and easy method. First they produced a polyurethane acrylate (PUA) nanofibril structure. Then, by bombarding the polymer with electrons at a shallow angle, the nanofibril structure begane bending over forming small hooks. The researchers forsee applications for adhesion as the stuctures resemble gecko setae, or 'nanovelcro'.
Soft matter discussion
There have been a few attempts carried out in the last few years to tunably shape polymeric nanofibril structures - including here at Harvard. In fact, Aizenberg has used hydrogels to control microscale features. The researchers on this project attempt to control nanoscale features by bombarding the polymer with electrons from a standard E-beam.
First, a vertical array of polyurethane acrylate (PUA) fibrils were produced using standard replica molding techniques using a silicon master. The exact size of the nanofibrils is not mentioned in the article. Then field emission electron spectroscopy with varying tilting angles, voltages, and exposure times was used to irradiate the polymer matrix.
The electron radiation gave rise to asymmetric shrinking of the polymers that resulted from the decomposition of the CO bond. Two types of structures were created, stooped, which shows less bend, at relatively high tilting angles, and crispated, which show more hook like, at relatively low tilting angles.