Surfaces decorated with dense arrays of microscopic fibres exhibit unique materials properties, including superhydrophobicity and low friction. Nature relies on 'hairy' surfaces to protect blood capillaries from wear and infection (endothelial glycocalyx). Here we report on the discovery of self-assembled tunable networks of microscopic polymer fibres ranging from wavy colloidal 'fur' to highly interconnected networks. The networks emerge via dynamic self-assembly in an alternating electric field from a non-aqueous suspension of 'sticky' polymeric colloidal particles with a controlled degree of polymerization. The resulting architectures are tuned by the frequency and amplitude of the electric field and surface properties of the particles. We demonstrate, using atomic layer deposition, that the networks can serve as a template for a transparent conductor. These self-assembled tunable materials are promising candidates for large surface area electrodes in batteries and organic photovoltaic cells, as well as for microfluidic sensors and filters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)