The image above shows polymer crystals that formed from a supercritical fluid–a special phase of matter that is able to dissolve material like a liquid, yet has no surface tension like a gas. In the image, the small “flowers” are about as wide as a human hair and are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)–the same material used to make plastic bottle caps. UMass Amherst researchers Jim Watkins, Alex Briseno and colleagues are using this technique to crystallize semiconducting polymers to create new flexible electronics. In a new initiative, led by Watkins, director of the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, UMass is leading the DoD’s New England Node of the national Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a $75 million federal initiative to boost innovation in advanced manufacturing. Learn more.
Image credit: Nicholas Colella, courtesy of VISUAL