PMMA colloids (more or less Plexiglass) are small spherical particles that are used as model systems. I was using these PMMA particles to create soft gel-like structures in the hopes of providing experimental evidence for some of the computational results found by Jader Colombo and Emanuela Del Gado in a recent-ish paper.
However, this side project hit the point where it either became a
side project, or it needed to be put on the shelf. But I kept these particles, supplied by Itai Cohen’s group at Cornell, for a rainy day and decided to do something fun with them.
I dipped these silk fibers from a cocoon into a solution with the 1.5 micrometer fluorescent particles and imaged them with a confocal microscope at different magnifications. Its cool to see that the particles really like the fibers and really highlight the disordered fiber network.
If you zoom in a bit, you can actually resolve how the particles pack onto the curved surface of the silk fiber! The video here shows the 3D structure. Useful? Probably not.