The Beauty of Science (BOS) has a stunning new video online dedicated to electrodeposition. This is a chemical reaction in which positively charged metallic ions, called cations, suspended in a liquid solution are attracted to a negatively charged electrode, called a cathode. In the process, the metal molecules form gorgeous structures as they pile up and organize themselves.
The BOS team led by Doctor Yan Liang used a microscope and exquisite photography to film copper tin, zinc, lead, and silver. Thanks to their different chemical properties, each of these metals created distinct shapes. The constructions resemble other fractal structures like crystals, coral, algae, leaves, and trees.
Liang is the creator of the successful Beautiful Chemistry series. If you haven’t seen the videos, go look now. One titled “The Chemical Garden II” (below) shows what happens when you drop a piece of metal salt in a solution of sodium silicate: “Due to the osmotic pressure, water enters the membrane and breaks it, generating more insoluble membranes. This cycle repeats and the salt grows into all kinds of interesting forms,” the video’s description reads.
In Bubbling III–parts I and II are equally as cool–“bubbles are generated when gases are produced by [five different] chemical reactions in solution.”