Self-Organization of a Mesoscale Bristle into Ordered, Hierarchical Helical Assemblies

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Science  09 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5911, pp. 237-240
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165607

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Mesoscale hierarchical helical structures with diverse functions are abundant in nature. Here we show how spontaneous helicity can be induced in a synthetic polymeric nanobristle assembling in an evaporating liquid. We use a simple theoretical model to characterize the geometry, stiffness, and surface properties of the pillars that favor the adhesive self-organization of bundles with pillars wound around each other. The process can be controlled to yield highly ordered helical clusters with a unique structural hierarchy that arises from the sequential assembly of self-similar coiled building blocks over multiple length scales. We demonstrate their function in the context of self-assembly into previously unseen structures with uniform, periodic patterns and controlled handedness and as an efficient particle-trapping and adhesive system.

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