Smart Colloids

Smart fluids have particles added to them that allow characteristics of the fluid to be controlled by an external factor such as an electro-magnetic field or light or sound. A common example is using magnetic particles in fluid to alter the viscosity and create a controllable damping effect or reduction in vibration. Think shock absorber with remote control of the way the damping fluid responds to impacts. By changing other characteristics and using other control techniques, a wide variety of applications are brought into play.

Colloids are naturally occurring smart fluids. They are suspensions of particles in fluid that often depend upon electro-magnetic fields to maintain their suspended state. They are found in a variety of states from gas to liquid to solid. Examples of colloids include fog, milk, gelatin, glass, smoke, blood, styrofoam, and aerogel.

With the advent of nanotechnology, it becomes possible to create smart colloids that will have a huge variety of application enabled by a huge variety of controllable characteristics and control mediums. We still don’t understand the limits of how much function we can build into nano-particles. As it approaches the molecular level, we may be able to control factors like crystalline structure.

SEE ALSO:
Photonic Colloidal Crystals
Glass Grows Up
Quasicrystals
Liquid Crystal Phonon Lenses

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