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Letter Perfect


Published Apr 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Copyright © Photo by James N. Wilking/Thomas G. Mason, UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry

How small can you spell? It takes big science to make little miracles, but that's what UCLA Associate Professor Thomas G. Mason and chemistry alumnus Carlos J. Hernandez Ph.D. '07 do with their LithoParticleâ„¢ dispersions of colloidal alphabet soup. In layman's terms: microscale polymer particles shaped like each letter of the alphabet dispersed in water. Bruin graduate student James N. Wilking used laser tweezers to pick up those four familiar letters and moved them in order "like skywriting in solution." And this is art as well as science: Another one of Mason's alphabet-soup images was selected for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.