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Laser technique used to build micro-polymeric structure on a human hair, without harming it

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (5-3-04) -- Researchers in the laboratory of Boston College Chemistry Professor John T. Fourkas have demonstrated the fabrication of microscopic polymeric structures on top of a human hair.

Fourkas, in collaboration with Boston College Physics Professor Michael J. Naughton and Professors Malvin C. Teich and Bahaa E. A. Saleh of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University, used a technique called multiphoton-absorption photopolymerization (MAP), in which a polymer can be deposited at the focal point of a laser beam; scanning of the laser beam in a desired pattern then allows for the formation of intricate, three-dimensional patterns. This technique, also being explored by a handful of other groups worldwide, makes it possible to create features that are 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

These new results show for the first time that MAP can be used to fabricate structures nondestructively on biomaterials, and point the way towards applications of MAP in the creation of miniature biodevices, which could include micromanipulators for cells or even individual protein or DNA molecules.

The findings will be published in the June 1 issue of Journal of Applied Physics.

The original purpose of the study was to demonstrate that intricate and resilient structures could be created with MAP using inexpensive and readily-available materials.

In order to demonstrate the size of the features that could be created, the researchers fabricated structures near a human hair, and in the course of these experiments they discovered that it was also possible to fabricate structures on the hair itself.

"We built the structure on top of the hair with a material that is akin to plexiglass," said Fourkas. "One of the really exciting and unexpected things about this is that we found that we could make this structure on the hair without harming it in any way. This suggests that w
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Contact: John Fourkas
fourkas@bc.edu
617-552-3611
Boston College
3-May-2004


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