Amazing Video Shows Chameleon-Like Crystal Display
University of Michigan engineering researchers have discovered a template-free method for growing shaped crystals in seconds - one that allows for changeable structures that could appear as different colors and patterns.
(Light template forces crystal growth in block M shape)
The researchers have found a way to control a crystal on the fly as it forms in a solution of latex paint microparticles, around 0.001 millimeters in diameter, in a kerosene-like fluid.
"We can shine the light in a certain region, and the particles create a crystalline region where they all come together and create this crystal structure," said Youngri Kim, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, who led the study. When the light was off, the crystal dissolved back into the solution.
By shining shaped ultraviolet light into the fluid, Kim was able to make the microparticles arrange into the Michigan Block M. Ordinarily, to get a shape like a Block M, the crystal would have to be built on top of a template. A template can make crystals of one shape only, but the new method can produce crystals in any shape that light can assume.
The team found that the key to this flexible crystal formation is a light-induced chemical reaction. It occurs between the layer of indium tin oxide at the bottom of the tiny pool of solution and the kerosene-like fluid.
In Philip K. Dick's 1960 novel Vulcan's Hammer, the enormous, advanced underground artificially intelligent computer Vulcan 3 can display text with fluid metal letters right on its smooth metal face - on the rare occasions that it wants to talk with human beings.
Vulcan 3 was aware of him. Across the vast impersonal face of metal an acknowledgment gleamed, a ribbon of fluid letters that appeared briefly and then vanished.
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