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Epoxy+Electricity=New Hairy Materials

Scientists have created a new kind of structure by running alternating current through a mixture of epoxy, hardener and solvent. Their technique causes long fibers to grow from the raw materials.

The method, developed by Argonne National Laboratory physicists and colleagues, could be useful in producing new materials for batteries, photovoltaic cells or sensors. These technologies require components with high surface areas. Such characteristics are offered by the new “hairy” fiber-sprouting materials, which can then be coated with a semiconducting layer, for example, to meet the technology’s needs.

It could also be used to make superhydrophobic surfaces, which repel water and dust by being covered by nano-sized hairs. 

See a video of the hairy fibers growing below.

Researchers say the shape of the structures the method produces can be tweaked, as shown in the photos above. These structures can be permanent or instantly reversible. 

“This is a completely new kind of structure,” said Argonne physicist  and study coauthor Alexey Snezhko. “With this method, you can support more complex structures that have unique properties.”

All images courtesy Alexey Snezhko and Igor Aronson/Argonne.

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