A Very Secret Garden
May 30, 2013 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Finally I can put my Merkur razor to good use again.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2013

"Crystal manipulation" sounds like a sci-fi construction technique. Massive vats of dissolved materials, fed specific charges in specific orders, magically building themselves into vast crystal towers.

But, for now... pretty pictures!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:28 AM on May 30, 2013

You're changing the story with your link-text, quin. The page says "Chemists Grew Microscopic Crystal Flowers on a Razor Blade", not the edge of a razor blade. That reminded me of an ancient put-down from junior high: "If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade it would look like a meatball rolling down a four-lane highway."
posted by Rash at 8:32 AM on May 30, 2013

TRUE! Clearly my brain failed that particular test! They also grew the flowers on a penny and on a glass slide.
posted by quin at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2013

It made me sad to read that most of the images are false color, but false color always seems to make already-beautiful things extra-double-plus beautiful. It's especially amazing that the crystals self-assemble.

For the scientists of MeFi, the original paper: "Rationally Designed Complex, Hierarchical Microarchitectures" [PDF] by Wim L. Noorduin, Alison Grinthal, L. Mahadevan, and Joanna Aizenberg.
Bonus: Original Harvard press release, which opens with a quote from cummings' "Spring is like a perhaps hand."
"You can really collaborate with the self-assembly process," says Noorduin. "The precipitation happens spontaneously, but if you want to change something then you can just manipulate the conditions of the reaction and sculpt the forms while they're growing."

Increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide, for instance, helps to create 'broad-leafed' structures. Reversing the pH gradient at the right moment can create curved, ruffled structures.
Ahhh! What a wonderful world.

Thanks for the link.
posted by divined by radio at 8:37 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the Diamond Age.
posted by alms at 8:39 AM on May 30, 2013

I love these. I have a large, framed crystal manipulation photo of Acetaminophen hanging in my dining room. It looks like a wheat field next to a beach. Quite beautiful.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:25 AM on May 30, 2013

The crystals are cool. The false color, not so much--it's a little manipulative.
posted by yellowcandy at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2013

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