You’ve likely heard of or seen swordsmen who can expertly and accurately slice through all kinds of objects, but scientists are now taking precision-cutting to the next level of awesome.
Researchers at Arizona State University, in cooperation with colleagues at Youngstown State University, have perfected the subtle science of slicing water droplets in half. They detailed their exploits in a study just published in the online open-access journal PLoS ONE.
The scientists accomplished the feat using superhydrophobic (extremely water-resistant) knives and cutting surfaces. The knives were composed of polyethylene and zinc and dipped in solutions of silver nitrate and another superhydrophobic solution abbreviated HDFT (its systematic name is far too long to fit on one line). Cutting surfaces were simply composed of Teflon.
Even with their water-resistant knives and cutting boards, the researchers had to be incredibly meticulous when actually slicing the H2O. They delicately cut through water droplets ranging in size from 15 to 70 µL, utilizing wire loops to keep the droplets stationary. Their meticulous efforts produced no satellite drops, nor did they result in any “catastrophic rupture” of the water droplets.
The researchers envision their knives and methods potentially being employed in biomolecular research settings where scientists have to efficiently separate proteins or other components in very small liquid samples.
Attribution: Real Clear Science, The New Scientist