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Golden Surfactants
Anderson Shum ’05 and Hannes Schniepp
Department of Chemical Engineering
Atomic force micrograph of a gold surface covered by cylindrical surfactant micelles. The surfactant used here—"SDS"—is a common ingredient of shampoos, laundry detergents and other cleaning products. On the gold surface, the surfactant molecules have undergone a self-assembly process to form “noodle-like” structures with diameters of about 5nm. The grainy appearance on this small scale arises from the topography of the gold substrate (root-mean-square roughness: 1.5nm). The image was processed so that the small-scale topographic features are encoded by brightness, whereas the large-scale topographic features are identified by color: red – lowest areas between the grains, gold – grains, violet – highest peaks. The original size of the displayed area was 500nm x 500nm. The artists work in the research groups of Professors I.A. Aksay and D.A. Saville.