Over the next 17 months, Virginia Tech will lead a team of researchers exploring the development of a new class of materials that will use plant protein structures in an attempt to mimic biological systems. The Defense Science Office of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is funding the $2.1 million project.
DARPA is specifically interested in a group of hard polymers called nastic materials. In biology, nastic refers to the natural movement of plants in response to changes in their environment, such as plants that track the sunlight or that stiffen when watered. These movements are caused by changes in the water pressure inside the plant and can result in very large changes in shape. The goal of the DARPA project, administered by John Main, is to develop synthetic materials that utilize internal pressure changes to cause large shape changes.
The plan calls for the investigation of the protein structures of plants for the purpose of understanding their role in generating shape changes in natural materials. The protein structures under analysis would then be used to develop a synthetic material that incorporates properties that produce controllable shapes.
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Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
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Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
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