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Katherine Snell, Isabelle Lopez, Brandon Louie, Roxanna Kiessling, Babak Sanii. 2019. Drawing and Hydrophobicity-patterning Long Polydimethylsiloxane Silicone Filaments. Journal of Visualized Experiments : . Full Article

Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone is a versatile polymer that cannot readily be formed into long filaments. Traditional spinning methods fail because PDMS does not exhibit long-range fluidity at melting. We introduce an improved method to produce filaments of PDMS by a stepped temperature profile of the polymer as it cross-links from a fluid to an elastomer. By monitoring its warm-temperature viscosity, we estimate a window of time when its material properties are amendable to drawing into long filaments. The filaments pass through a high-temperature tube oven, curing them sufficiently to be harvested. These filaments are on the order of hundreds of micrometers in diameter and tens of centimeters in length, and even longer and thinner filaments are possible. These filaments retain many of the material properties of bulk PDMS, including switchable hydrophobicity. We demonstrate this capability with an automated corona-discharge patterning method. These patternable PDMS silicone filaments have applications in silicone weavings, gas-permeable sensor components, and model microscale foldamers.

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