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One of the coolest things I saw on television as a kid was a samurai slicing a drop of water as it falls through the air. It was awesome. But slicing water is not an easy task, try carving out a piece, the water parts momentarily and then reattaches. Well here comes science with a little help, a super hydrophobic knife.
This video filmed by a team led by Ryan Yanashima from the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State University shows a drop of water resting on a Teflon surface being sliced in to two with a knife. And its quite a site.
The knife is one of many constructed by the team at Arizona State in their endeavour to separate proteins from the biological fluids they are found in. The knives were constructed from polyethylene, a polymer used in plastic bags, from zinc and copper and were dipped in a solution of silver nitrate and a chemical called HDFT for 20 seconds. The result was a super hydrophobic surface.
The team revealed the purpose of this experiment a few years ago in 2012 in am issue of PLoS One, a scientific journal. They outlined their goals to engineer materials, specifically knives, that could manipulate individual droplets of water to separate proteins. The proteins could be individually detected and this would allow for better information to be gathered on genes leading to better predictions of diseases, illnesses etc.