The Artistic Side of Intermolecular Forces

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 888-889
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.888

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When films get thinner than about one micrometer, they become unstable in ways that affect many applications. In his Perspective, Reiter discusses results reported in the same issue by Herminghaus et al. in which a process called "spinodal dewetting" was studied as a possible source of instability. By adjusting the intermolecular interaction properties, a variety of film patterns were obtained, and these patterns were consistent with those seen in experiments of thin films. Such effects may be especially useful in situations where particular patterns need to be created.