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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 3 (2007) pp 159-162

A Card Trick Using Spontaneous Assembly

Joel Kouakou, Ryan Sangalli, Dean J. Campbell*

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61625,
Received September 3, 2006. Accepted March 5, 2007.

Published online: 4 June 2007

Abstract. A demonstration of spontaneous organization (or “self-assembly”) of wetted flat plates is described. The organization process itself involves the plates rotating over each other to achieve the same orientation and varies with the size, shape, and composition of the plates, and the properties of the liquid wetting the surface of the plates. The driving force for this assembly process appears to be an attractive capillary interaction similar to that used in assembly of macroscale units at an air/liquid or liquid/liquid interface. This demonstration of assembly works well with glass plates and water, but can also be extended to clear plastic waterproof cards and oil.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; physical chemistry; nanotechnology

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (497 KB) HTML format

Issue date: June 1, 2007

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