Chemical Reaction Creates Gorgeous, Blooming 'Microflowers'

RMIT University
RMIT University / RMIT University

Scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have found a way to produce “flowers" with intricate, blooming petals—and they can only be seen using high-powered microscopes. 

Sheshanath Bhosale and his team at the university developed the microflowers by mixing two organic chemicals, a phosphonic acid and melamine, in water. As the researchers described earlier this week in Nature Scientific Reports, the chemicals reacted by forming hydrogen bonds between them, and delicate, petal-like arrangements formed that mimicked the flower-blooming process. The structures took three hours to fully unfurl and grew 10 microns across, or one-tenth the width of a human hair. The image above was taken using a scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscopy imaging, and it’s been digitally colored and magnified 20,000 times. Below you can see the "microflower," as it's been dubbed by researchers, in earlier stages of development.

RMIT University

The structures aren’t just pretty to look at—they also have the potential to be used in a variety of applications, such as water-repellant coatings and materials capable of detecting explosives

[h/t: New Scientist]