Controlled growth and form of precipitating microsculptures

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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aah6350
Reference C.N. Kaplan, W.L. Noorduin, L. Li, R. Sadza, L. Folkertsma, J. Aizenberg and L. Mahadevan, Controlled growth and form of precipitating microsculptures, Science 355, 6332: 1395-1399 (2017)
Group Self-Organizing Matter

Controlled self-assembly of three-dimensional shapes holds great potential for fabrication of functional materials. Their practical realization requires a theoretical framework to quantify and guide the dynamic sculpting of the curved structures that often arise in accretive mineralization. Motivated by a variety of bioinspired coprecipitation patterns of carbonate and silica, we develop a geometrical theory for the kinetics of the growth front that leaves behind thin-walled complex structures. Our theory explains the range of previously observed experimental patterns and, in addition, predicts unexplored assembly pathways. This allows us to design a number of functional base shapes of optical microstructures, which we synthesize to demonstrate their light-guiding capabilities. Overall, our framework provides a way to understand and control the growth and form of functional precipitating microsculptures.