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A nanorose may not smell as sweet as an organic one, but the red petals on this micron-scale flower are unquestionably just as beautiful. At Harvard University, materials scientists have perfected an underwater chemical reaction that results in these gorgeous, self-assembling nanoflowers.
The microscopic structures are crystals that build themselves, one molecule at a time, on a glass surface submerged in a beaker of water, barium chloride, and sodium silicate. When carbon dioxide from the air naturally dissolves in the water, it sets off the chemical reaction that causes the crystals to form.
Though the colors in these images are artificial, the intricate shapes of the nanoflowers are very real. The twists, curves, and ruffles are created when the scientists shift the components of the chemical reaction; the crystals naturally "grow" toward or away from various chemical gradients. For example, the broad-leaf shapes you'll see in the gallery formed in solutions with extra carbon dioxide.
"When you look through the electron microscope, it really feels a bit like you're diving in the ocean, seeing huge fields of coral and sponges," says Wim L. Noorduin, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and lead author of the paper in Science. "Sometimes I forget to take images because it's so nice to explore."
Click here to see more of these amazing creations.
These are so happy SMURF-wonderous!
Well, without the photoshopped color, these are far less impressive since adding certain salts to sodium silicate is a common chemistry experiment for kids to watch chemical gardens grow.
With the color, they do look wonderful, however.
"When carbon dioxide from the air naturally dissolves in the water, it sets off the chemical reaction that causes the crystals to form"
Does this stuff absorb carbon dioxide? It sounds like it.
Perhaps we can use it to save the planet.
This is great! It really shows me where to expand my blog. I think that sometime in the future I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but we will see.Good post with useful tips and ideas