Liquid undergoes magnetic ‘splits’

The demonstration helps scientists begin how molecules in plants and animals naturally alter their shapes

By Andrew Grant, 16:42 PM July 29, 2013

On their own, proteins and other molecules in nature can warp and fold into new shapes. Scientists want to create synthetic structures that can alter their form much as the molecules in plants and animals do. A team in Europe has now tested a simple shape-shifting material.

 

A liquid mixed with nanomagnets can split and arrange itself into simple droplets (left) and complex, warping formations (right). All it takes to do this is the presence of a magnetic field. Credit: Courtesy of Mika Latikka and Jaakko Timonen/Aalto Univ.

Physicist Jaakko Timonen at Aalto University in Finland and his colleagues worked with liquids into which they suspended nanomagnets. Each only a few billionths of a meter in diameter, these particles can force the liquid ...

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