Regents Professor Frank Bates discussed his latest results with Joe Palca, host of Talk of the Nation Science Friday, along with the importance of marshmallows, ping-pong balls and toothpicks in his research.
Bates and his graduates students Sangwoo Lee and Mike Bluemle discovered a Frank-Kasper sigma phase, a crystal approximant to a dodecagonal quasicrystal, in block copolymer melts.
The accompanying image is the first model created by Sangwoo Lee, the lead author on the publication, that illustrates the crystal structure of the sigma phase. The structure was created with marshmallows and coffee stirrers.
They reported their result in the October 15th issue of Science (S. Lee, M.J. Bluemle and F.S. Bates, "Discovery of a Frank-Kasper Sigma Phase in Sphere-Forming Block Copolymer Melts," Science 330, 349-353, 2010). The transcript of the radio interview is available on the NPR website.