Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Geometries: Researchers Create New Shapes of Artificial Microcompartments

13.12.2012
As in nature, various shapes could be more efficient for specific functions

In nature, biological functions are often carried out in tiny protective shells known as microcompartments, structures that provide home to enzymes that convert carbon dioxide into energy in plant cells and to viruses that replicate once they enter the cell.

Most of these shells buckle into an icosahedron shape, forming 20 sides that allow for high interface with their surroundings. But some shells — such as those found in the single-celled Archaea or simple, salt-loving organisms called halophiles —break into triangles, squares, or non-symmetrical geometries. While these alternate geometries may seem simple, they can be incredibly useful in biology, where low symmetry can translate to higher functionality.

Researchers at Northwestern University have recently developed a method to recreate these shapes in artificial microcompartments created in the lab: by altering the acidity of their surroundings. The findings could lead to designed microreactors that mimic the functions of these cell containers or deliver therapeutic materials to cells at specific targeted locations.
“If you want to design a very clever capsule, you don’t make a sphere. But perhaps you shouldn’t make an icosahedron, either,” said Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and (by courtesy) Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and one of the paper’s authors. “What we are beginning to realize is maybe these lower symmetries are smarter.”

To create the new shell geometries, the researchers co-assembled oppositely charged lipids with variable degrees of ionization and externally modified the surrounding electrolyte. The resulting geometries include fully faceted regular and irregular polyhedral, such as square and triangular shapes, and mixed Janus-like vesicles with faceted and curved domains that resembled cellular shapes and shapes of halophilic organisms.
The research was conducted by three McCormick faculty members: Olvera de la Cruz, Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and (by courtesy) Chemical and Biological Engineering; Michael J. Bedzyk, professor of materials science and engineering and (by courtesy) physics and astronomy; and Samuel I. Stupp, Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Medicine.

A paper about the research, “Molecular Crystallization Controlled by pH Regulates Mesoscopic Membrane Morphology,” was published November 27 in the journal ACS Nano.

Other authors of the paper include lead co-authors Cheuk-Yui Leung, Liam C. Palmer, and Bao Fu Qiao; Sumit Kewalramani, Rastko Sknepnek, Christina J. Newcomb, and Megan A. Greenfield, all of Northwestern; and Graziano Vernizzi of Siena College.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light
05.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>