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New approach to form non-equilibrium structures
Date:7/24/2014

us as humans," Szleifer said. "For us to be alive, we need to use energy all the time. In order to do that, we have to be out of equilibrium. We are trying to understand non-equilibrium assembly systems, so we have to give them energy."

Using models and simulations, Tagliazucchi, Weiss, and Szleifer found that they could give equilibrium systems energy by using a mixture of pH-responsive particles. Varying pH levels flipped the electric charges of the particles, causing them to oscillate and create the energy needed to assemble into non-equilibrium structures.

"By controlling the structure of the material, we can control its properties as well," Szleifer said. "The moment you stop the oscillations, the structure disappears."

The oscillatory method has allowed Szleifer and his collaborators to create novel structures that are impossible to find in equilibrium conditions. He said scientists could potentially determine how they want particles to interact and then tailor oscillations to lead to that outcome.

"For a number of years, my group has tried to find rules for self assembly," Szleifer said. "This is building toward that. We want to make guidelines for experimentalists."


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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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