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Very Fine Art: 6 Stunningly Beautiful Nanoscale Sculptures [Slide Show]

Researchers coax self-assembling materials into flowers, corals and other complex shapes

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DOUBLE-SPIRALS:

A close-up of a double spiral that has been cut through reveals how this shape forms. As one stem spirals, it leaves a trail of lower acidity toward which the other grows and vice versa. Both end up following one another’s tails all the way up to form the structure.....[ More ]

SPIRAL-STEMMED CARNATION:

Double-spiraled stems, such as the one shown here, form when acidity rises. Unlike the outward growth that results from a change in carbon dioxide level, a shift in acidity leads to inward growth, resulting in leaves, globs or spirals.....[ More ]

MICRO-MORSE CODE:

Each of these micro-vessels encode a letter in Morse code via the thickness of their ripples. Researchers are able to control the size of the ripples by either raising the carbon dioxide level and causing the wall of the structure to thicken or lowering it so that the wall thins out.....[ More ]

PLEATED PETALS:

The pleated petals of this carnation-like structure hint at how this technique can be used for more than just the creation of aesthetically pleasing micro-bouquets. The process could also have applications for products that depend heavily on catalysts—substances that speed up chemical reactions.....[ More ]

GROWN IN A VASE:

These flowers grown in thin vases are made one piece at a time: First the vases, then the stems and finally a short burst of carbon dioxide that induces the stems to bloom into flowers. The materials are very responsive to even minute changes in the environmental conditions, making each flower unique.....[ More ]

SHAPE AND DEPTH:

The structures form on the surface of a submerged glass plate. As external carbon dioxide flows into the system, it begins to dissolve into the solution, creating a gradient: more carbon dioxide near the surface than at the bottom.....[ More ]

INTELLIGENT DESIGN:

Spiky flowers grown on a base of budded globs show off the researchers’ ability to design complex forms using this new technique. Previous attempts to grow 3-D microstructures involved setting up the initial conditions and then letting the process unfold.....[ More ]

MICRO-TULIP BOUQUET:

The bouquet in this scanning electron microscope image measures about 50 micrometers across. Researchers used simple starting materials—barium chloride (a salt) and sodium silicate (glass)—that self-assemble into crystals.....[ More ]

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