Scientists at the Science Center Straubing base new sensoric materials on petrified pine cones
The scales of the petrified cones move upward against gravity, and on drying back to their starting positions. photo: BP, WZS)
Straubing, September 7, 2016 (jft) – In the realm of plants, capillary forces are a widely observed impetus for actuation. They are the physical basis for the expansion of porous materials during uptake of fluid. Such materials include the cones of conifers with their readily observable movement during drying or wetting. Scientists at the Chair of Biogenic Polymers of the Technical University Munich, located at the Science Center Straubing, have succeeded in retaining this plant-derived movement when the respective plant has been replaced by an artificial petrification process. Thereby, they laid the foundations for a new generation of sensoric materials.
"For the first
time we applied a previously developed and refined 'bio-templating' process to
create materials with a structure-based functionality- in cooperation with the
Institute of Physics of the Austrian Montanuniversitaet Leoben and the
Max-Planck-Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam", said Dr.
Daniel Van Opdenbosch, who is working at the Science Center Straubing. With
this approach, one can artificially petrify pine cones, completely transforming
the biological components into the technical material silica glass. Elaborate
analyses at the particle accelerator BESSY II in Berlin showed that the
internal structure of the pine cone was retained. Crucially, it was petrified
completely and accurately – down to the smallest hierarchical level of only
millionths of millimeters.