Direct imaging of polymer filaments pulled from rebounding drops (Soft Matter)

by Z. Yang, P. Zhang, M. Shi, A. Julaih, H. Mishra, E. Di Fabrizio, S. T. Thoroddsen
Year: 2022 DOI: 10.1039/D2SM00599A


Polymer filaments form the foundation of biology from cell scaffolding to DNA. Their study and fabrication play an important role in a wide range of processes from tissue engineering to molecular machines. We present a simple method to deposit stretched polymer fibers between micro-pillars. This occurs when a polymeric drop impacts on and rebounds from an inclined superhydrophobic substrate. It wets the top of the pillars and pulls out liquid filaments which are stretched and can attach to adjacent pillars leaving minuscule threads, with the solvent evaporating to leave the exposed polymers. We use high-speed video at the microscale to characterize the most robust filament-forming configurations, by varying the impact velocity, substrate structure and inclination angle, as well as the PEO-polymer concentration. Impacts onto plant leaves or a randomized nano-structured surface leads to the formation of a branched structure, through filament mergers at the free surface of the drop. SEM shows the deposition of filament bundles which are thinner than those formed by evaporation or rolling drops. Raman spectroscopy identifies the native mode B stretched DNA filaments from aqueous-solution droplets.