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'Liquid Mirror' Advance May Lead To Better Eye Exams, Improved Telescopes

Date:
November 12, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists in Canada are reporting progress toward a new type of "liquid mirror" -- mirrors made with highly reflective liquids -- whose shape can be changed to provide superior optical properties over conventional solid mirrors.

Compared to a previous formula for making liquid mirrors” (left), new materials show excellent performance.
Credit: American Chemical Society

Scientists in Canada are reporting progress toward a new type of "liquid mirror" — mirrors made with highly reflective liquids — whose shape can be changed to provide superior optical properties over conventional solid mirrors.

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The advance could lead to improved instruments for diagnosing eye disease, more powerful telescopes, and other applications, the researchers say. Their research will be described in the November 25 issue of ACS' Chemistry of Materials, a bi-weekly journal.

In the report, Anna Ritcey, Jean-Philippe Dery, and Ermanno Borra note that "liquid mirrors" are not new. Scientists have long recognized that these liquids could provide a low-cost, easy-to-use alternative to solid mirrors for a variety of optical applications while offering the potential for less image distortion.

Researchers have recently developed liquid-mirror telescopes that use mercury as the reflective material. Mercury, however, is toxic and the shape of the surface can't be deformed or adjusted.

The scientists describe development of a new type of deformable "liquid mirror" composed of magnetic iron particles, ethylene glycol (a component of automotive antifreeze), and a coating of silver nanoparticles. These materials form a highly reflective mirror whose shape can be changed by adjusting the voltage applied to electromagnets placed below the liquid, allowing the user to fine-tune the mirror's optical properties.

In lab studies, the new material showed better reflectivity and stability than current liquid-mirror materials, the scientists say.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-Philippe Déry, Ermanno F. Borra, and Anna M. Ritcey. Ethylene Glycol Based Ferrofluid for the Fabrication of Magnetically Deformable Liquid Mirrors. Chem. Mater., 2008; 20 (20): 6420-6426 DOI: 10.1021/cm801075u

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "'Liquid Mirror' Advance May Lead To Better Eye Exams, Improved Telescopes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081110181903.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, November 12). 'Liquid Mirror' Advance May Lead To Better Eye Exams, Improved Telescopes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081110181903.htm
American Chemical Society. "'Liquid Mirror' Advance May Lead To Better Eye Exams, Improved Telescopes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081110181903.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

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