ACS: Marbles, I’ve lost mine

Mar 27, 2019
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This week has driven me slightly insane, for a number of reasons. Included in those reasons is the vastness of the conference. We all say it, year in, year out and I’ve been trying to bite my lip. But really, ACS – can we have a conference that doesn’t involve half-hour bus trips between venues?

Now that’s off my chest let me tell you about ionic-liquid marbles. I saw some incredibly cool videos of droplets of ionic liquid being rolled in PTFE powder, and then forming marbles which are very hydrophobic and have amazing floaty properties on water surfaces. The work is being conducted by Tom McCarthy and Lichao Gao at the University of Massachusetts.

Some of the marbles they made were magnetic and could be dragged around – with potential for drug delivery. The coating of the marbles is held in place by magic. Well, actually, it is held in place by electrostatic forces (but I thought I’d inject a bit of children’s storybook fantasy into this post), and this means that when an electrostatically-charged rod – rubbed on a pair of nylon trousers or something like that – is brought near the marbles, they pop! And in drug delivery this could mean them being dragged to a target using the magnet, and then being allowed to release their bounty with the stroke of a charged wand…


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