A Way to New Smart Materials – Hierarchical 3D Structures Produced Via Self-Organization of Nanowires

Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Grand Ballroom (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
G. Strukova and G. Strukov (retaired)
The beauty of these pictures is intriguing and fascinating by its asymmetric, exquisite and intricate pattern. What is it? Is it a product of a novel computer program or photographs of fine creations of nature? Neither statement is true. In fact, these are not pictures, but images of metal samples made with an electron microscope. Only some color is added to the images to emphasize their resemblance to natural objects of our macroworld: seashells, jelly-fish, leaves of exotic plants. The size of the samples is varied in micron scale. They are produced via self-organization of nano-sized (millionth of a millimeter) wires growing on porous membranes under the action of electric current pulses. This is how such volumetric (3D) sculptures are described in scientific journals [1- 3] along with the experimental conditions for their reproduction, i.e., the conditions of the process (electrolyte composition, porous membrane, pulsed current mode) are specified, when growing nanowires organize themselves in an inexplicable fashion into “sculptures” that show perfect resemblance to natural creations. The authors have managed to isolate and photograph them with a modern electron microscope. Besides, they have proved that the internal structure of this metallic “seashells” is a volumetric multilayer network woven by nano-sized wires. Such antenna-like samples are expected to find application in nanotechnology as new materials for different applications. Now we produce such “sculptures” from various metals “by order”, examine their magnetic properties, study their interaction with plasma and focused electron beam, look for a field of their application and admire their elegant forms. However, it is still a riddle. Why do they so closely resemble shells and leaves? Does this mysterious self-organization have anything in common with formation of plant leaves and seashells?

 [1] J of Bionic Engineering 10 (2013) 368–376

[2] Materials Today 16 (2013) 98–99 , [3] Materials Letters, 128 (2014) 212-215.