Alberto Concellón, a postdoc in Tim Swager’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made these complex droplets in water using three components. The bulk of the droplet is made up of a fluorinated oil (1-ethoxynonafluorobutane) and a liquid crystal (a cyanobiphenyl), the latter of which appears multicolored under cross-polarized light. The two phases don’t mix with each other nor with water, so normally, this mixture might set up a three-layer stack of liquids, but the final ingredient brings it all together, literally: surfactant molecules that are half liquid crystal and half fluorinated oil walk the line between the two phases in the droplet and allow the phases to float in the water and stick together rather than separate. By changing the surfactant and temperature of the system, these droplets can change structure. Concellón believes that multicompartment droplets like these—which are about 100 µm wide—could anchor antibodies on their surfaces and function as biosensors.
Submitted by Alberto Concellón. Read the full paper here.
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