Catch me! Synthetic nanofibers reach out like fingers and capture a nanoparticle. Each fiber is 1/1000th the width of a human hair. Inspired by biology, Harvard’s Joanna Aizenberg uses nanofabrication strategies to design completely synthetic structures capable of complex functions.
Here, liquid evaporates around an ordered array of epoxy bristles to confer bending forces. These forces spontaneously shape the nanofibers into Medusa like helical bundles, and bundles of bundles, that can capture and release small particles for drug delivery or photonics. In essence, the bundles store elastic energy and information.
The work sounds like fun too. Aizenberg said, “Indeed,our helical patterns are so amazingly aesthetic that often we would stop the scientific discussion and argue about mythology, modern dreadlocks, alien creatures, or sculptures”.