Triblock spheres provide a simple path to complex structures | Engineering at Illinois: “This is a big step forward in showing how to make non-trivial, non-obvious structures from a very simple thing,” said Steve Granick, Founder Professor of Engineering at Illinois and a professor of materials science and engineering, chemistry, and physics. “People know a lot about how to do it with molecules – soaps for example – but scientists and engineers know very little about how to make it happen with particles. Particles are very different from molecules: They’re big, they’re nonflexible, and they have lots of critically different materials properties.”
Granick’s group is well-known for its work with Janus particles. Named for the dual-natured Roman god, Janus particles have two sides or segments of different surface chemistry. Having explored spheres with two different-natured halves, Chen had the idea to make spheres with three “stripes” of reactivity, dubbed triblock Janus spheres. The center band is charged, while the poles are hydrophobic, or water-adverse."
“It’s like a better soap,” Granick said. “Just as soap is very good at dissolving both fats and water-soluble things, our new lacy lattice can also filter out both water-soluble and oil-soluble matter. We have this wonderful self-produced lacy structure that’s oil-loving and water-loving at different parts in a periodic array.”
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