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Structured Fluid

Structured Fluid

Piece description from the artist

Structured fluid is a small drawing of micellar domains transitioning into a layered phase. Micelles are similar to soap. There are molecules that have two separate sections, attached to each other by a chemical covalent bond. There is a small "head" group, which is usually polar. The head group dissolves in and mixes well with water and polar liquids. This head is attached to a long "tail" fat or hydrocarbon. The tail mixes well with oils, hydrocarbons, or even polymers, depending on the chemistry. Molecules that have a chemically distinct head and tail that each mix with different types of chemistries are called amphiphiles.

In soap, amphiphiles form little dynamic capsules that hold greasy particles and molecules with their oil-loving tails. The tails point inside the capsule and dissolve and hold oil and dirt. The amphiphile heads point outside the capsule, and stay mixed in water. This behavior allows amphiphiles to float oils away down the drain.

Many of these amphiphiles can also form ordered patterns within water. These patterns change as the concentration of the amphiphiles increases. These changing patterns are a type of liquid crystalline order, called lyotropic liquid crystallinity. (Lyotropic means concentration dependent). Lyotropic liquid crystals have different flow properties from ordinary liquids, but the structures inside the liquids are very delicate and easily break apart (and also reform fairly easily).

The amphiphilic molecules that encapsulate the domains are represented as a black circle (head) and squiggly line (tail). "Oily" phase polymer is red intersecting squiggles inside the domains, mixed with the amphiphile tails. The polar solvent is represented with blue stippling

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8.0" x 8.0"
pigmented ink on acid free paper

Unfortunately, the original of this work is not available. However, one of our friendly Personal Curators can reach out to the artist to see if they’d be interested in a commission. Get in touch.

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