Birck Nanotechnology Center

Purdue doctoral student makes sticky discovery

December 5, 2012

WEST LAFAYETE, Ind. (WLFI) - Some of the best inventions are the ones that are found by accident. At Purdue a Ph.D. student did just that.

While trying to collect pollen samples with household clear tape, doctoral student Manuel Ochoa found that it curls when exposed to moisture.

When cut into crosses they make a claw and can grab water samples. 

Purdue professor Babak Ziaie says that this smart material can be used, among many other things, to test water samples for pollutants.  

"You can create different shapes that can bend,” Ziaie said. “For example, we have tried many different configurations such as a claw. They are like leaf petals that can bend and grab things and move things around. You can probably think of other ways to use this."

As an added feature to the water-grabbing tape, they coated them with a magnetic material for easy retrieval.

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