Summary: Public release date: 23-Jan-2006
Contact: Teresa Riordan
From Quonset huts to ballerinas
Princeton scientists solve a nanotech mystery
A team of Princeton researchers has untangled the mystery behind a
puzzling phenomenon first observed more than a decade ago in the ultra-
small world of nanotechnology.
Why is it, researchers wondered, that tiny aggregates of soap molecules,
known as surfactant micelles, congregate as long, low arches resembling
Quonset huts once they are placed on a graphite surface?
To fellow scientists and engineers, this question and the researchers'
answer is tantalizing since the discovery gives insight into "guided self-
assembly," an important technique in nanotechnology where molecules
arrange themselves spontaneously into certain structures. It may also one
day lead to valuable technological applications such as the creation of anti-
corrosion coatings for metals and bio-medical applications involving plaque
formation with proteins.