Hydrophobicity on rare earth oxides: the bare truth

For some time, rare earth oxides have been thought to be water-repellent. This march, scientists from the University of Basel, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Paul Scherrer Institute, have found the real origin of this behaviour. They’ve shown that rare earth oxides do not present any significant hydrophobicity. Only when exposed to environmental conditions, they repel water. The explanation, it was only chemical reactions with gaseous hydrocarbons found in the ambient air that increased the surfaces’ roughness and reduced wetting by water.

Personally interested in the subject, we did this picture for them, advised by Dr. Laurent Marot.

Van der Waals at its best!

Physicists measure van der Waals forces of individual atoms for the first time. Prof. Ernst Meyer et al, have succeeded in measuring the very weak van der Waals forces between individual atoms for the first time. To do this, they fixed individual noble gas atoms within a molecular network and determined the interactions with a single xenon atom that they had positioned at the tip of an atomic force microscope.

Prof. Ernst Meyer asked Scixel for a visual representation of their work, published in Nature Communications.