Written by Jennifer Sodini
Harvard scientist Wim L. Noorduin has discovered a way to form chemicals into beautiful and delicate microscopic flowers inside tiny beakers of water .
Perhaps the most fascinating fact about this experiment, is that the crystals that form the flowers self-assemble!
According to Harvard’s official website:
“By simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid, Wim L. Noorduin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and lead author of a paper appearing on the cover of the May 17 issue of Science, has found that he can control the growth behavior of these crystals to create precisely tailored structures.
“For at least 200 years, people have been intrigued by how complex shapes could have evolved in nature. This work helps to demonstrate what’s possible just through environmental, chemical changes,” says Noorduin.
The precipitation of the crystals depends on a reaction of compounds that are diffusing through a liquid solution. The crystals grow toward or away from certain chemical gradients as the pH of the reaction shifts back and forth.”
So, beyond being beautiful pictures from an electron microscope, this experiment could provide a new look at how structures form chemically in nature.
Browse the gallery below to see these “creations”, and to learn more about the project, click here.