Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microscopic Polystyrene Balls -- Now Jet-propelled!

Date:
July 16, 2007
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
A collaboration of British and Iranian physicists has created an armada of self-propelled polystyrene balls about as wide as a strand of your hair. Their efforts are moving toward self-propelled nanoswimmers that could navigate narrow channels such as the human circulatory system.

Platinum treated microspheres (bottom row) travel large distances in comparison to the untreated spheres.
Credit: J. Howse, R. Jones, A. Ryan, T. Gough, R. Vafabakhsh, and R. Golestanian, Physical Review Letters

A collaboration of British and Iranian physicists has created an armada of self-propelled polystyrene balls about as wide as a strand of your hair. Their efforts are moving toward self-propelled nanoswimmers that could navigate narrow channels such as the human circulatory system.

The researchers, led by Ramin Golestanian of the University of Sheffield, coated one side of each polystyrene ball with a thin layer of platinum before dropping them into a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. This metal catalyzes a reaction in which hydrogen peroxide breaks into oxygen and water. Because the reaction spits out three molecules for every two that it consumes, the polystyrene ball is pushed from the platinum side.

Objects as small as these polystyrene balls naturally wander about randomly, a phenomenon caused by jostling about among vibrating atoms and molecules. This "random walk" movement is called Brownian motion. To account for it, the platinum-coated balls were tested against polystyrene balls with no coating.

Over short distances, they found that the half-coated balls moved in a particular direction although their paths meandered over longer distances. Still, the wanderings of the coated balls were distinct from the Brownian motion of the uncoated balls. Their paths were a random walk with step sizes that depended on the concentration of hydrogen peroxide. The larger the hydrogen peroxide concentration, the larger the step.

Physicists have yet to devise a way to keep the balls heading in a particular direction, but chemical reaction catalysis may prove a useful method for propelling microscopic objects in liquids.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Microscopic Polystyrene Balls -- Now Jet-propelled!." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070716133456.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2007, July 16). Microscopic Polystyrene Balls -- Now Jet-propelled!. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070716133456.htm
American Physical Society. "Microscopic Polystyrene Balls -- Now Jet-propelled!." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070716133456.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins