Controlled Growth and Form of Precipitating Microsculptures

April 5, 2017

Macroscopic models of the microsculptures created via 3d printing by James Weaver, photo by Lori Sanders.

Manufacturing complex bio-inspired shapes in the lab is often time consuming and costly. The breakthrough in 2013 was led by materials scientists Joanna Aizenberg, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and Chemistry and Chemical Biology and core faculty member of the Wyss Institute and former postdoctoral fellow Wim L. Noorduin. The research allowed researchers to fabricate delicate, flower-like structures on a substrate by simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid. These structures, composed of carbonate and glass, form a bouquet of thin walls.

What that research lacked then was a quantitative understanding of the mechanisms involved that would enable even more precise control over these structures.

Enter the theorists.

Inspired by the theory to explain solidification and crystallization patterns, L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and postdoctoral fellow C. Nadir Kaplan, developed a new geometrical framework to explain how previous precipitation patterns grew and even predicted new structures.

Continue reading "Sculpting optical microstructures with slight changes in chemistry" by Leah Burrows on

Also read the original Report: C.N. Kaplan, W,L. Noorduin, L. Li, R. Sadza, L. Folkertsma, J. Aizenberg, L. Mahadevan, "Controlled growth and form of precipitating microsculptures," Science 355 (2017) DOI: 10.1126/science.aah6350.