Colloidal Films That Mimic Cilia

Marek W. Urban, University of Southern Mississippi

Originally published in Advanced Functional Materials, 2010, 20(18), 3163–3167.

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Cilia are wavy hair-like structures that extend outward from surfaces of various organisms. They are classified into two general categories, primary cilia, which exhibit sensing attributes, and motile cilia, which exert mechanical forces. A new poly(2-(N,N-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate-co-n-butyl acrylate-co-N,N-(dimethylamino) azobenzene acrylamide) (p(DMAEMA/nBA/DMAAZOAm) copolymer is prepared using colloidal synthesis, which, upon coalescence, form films capable of generating surfaces with cilia-like features. While film morphological features allow the formation of wavy whiskers, the chemical composition of the copolymer facilitates chemical, thermal, and electromagnetic responses manifested by simultaneous shape and color changes as well as excitation wavelength dependent fluorescence. These studies demonstrate that synthetically produced polymeric films can exhibit combined thermal, chemical, and electromagnetic sensing leading to locomotive and color responses, which may find numerous applications in sensing devices, intelligent actuators, defensive mechanisms, and others.