Prof. Alexander Böker, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm, Germany, has received the renowned ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). His research project RepliColl has been awarded funding of 1.9 million Euros over a period of five years. Böker and his team want to learn how to emulate self-replicating biological processes from nature's own DNA synthesis. His research should smooth the way for completely new technologies in manufacturing components for telecommunications and IT as well as for building blocks in the pharmaceutical branch and nanoelectronics.
Nature is master of the astonishing ability to duplicate itself. The self-replication of DNA and RNA molecules is the basis of human life. Prof. Böker would like to transfer this mechanism to artificial systems. “We want to create materials that are able to copy themselves.”
To do this, Böker is developing polymeric colloids – tiny spherical structures between 20 nanometers and one micron in size. Each colloid has two binding sites at which they can be tightly joined to one another. The result is comparable to a string of pearls.
The strings of pearls can also be bound to one another at a third binding site on the colloid. This reaction is reversible, however. Thus, the bonds between strings can be dissolved so that each of them can copy itself. The repetition of this duplicating process leads to the number of strings growing exponentially.
“In addition, if these strings of pearls are also able to autonomously arrange themselves into a well-defined periodic structure, we obtain tiny lattices with high diffraction symmetries. These only allow light rays of a single wavelength to be transmitted, and only in a specific direction. The effect is used in photonics to store and transmit information optically.
To be able to achieve this effect, the lattice structure must be several hundred nanometers in size though – a goal that we would like to achieve using self-duplication", explains Böker. “However, the great challenge posed by these kinds of synthetic systems consists of controlling the interactions between the strings in all directions and those between the reversible and irreversible bonds.”
Once a colloid resembling a “programmable building block” has been developed, it could independently arrange itself into identical copies using a master of the original structure and thereby autonomously produce highly complex, tailored structures. Colloidal formations could be made in this manner in the lab on large scales without large expense.
For industry, that would mean intelligent, resource-efficient, and tailored fabrication of components in the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0. Components for electronic displays and storage media are conceivable for instance, as well as nanocapsules to transport medications for the pharmaceutical industry and security features for combating product piracy.
The ERC Consolidator Grant is awarded annually to excellent scientists from throughout the EU in a highly competitive, two-round selection process. Researchers are to use the funding for strengthening their teams and pursuing their most innovative ideas.
“We congratulate Professor Böker for this extraordinary achievement. Excellence and originality in research are important components that enable the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to fulfill its mission of being a strong partner to business”, according to Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Prof. Sabine Kunst, Minister of Science, Research and Culture for the State of Brandenburg, is also pleased: “The ERC Consolidator Grant is an extraordinary honor that is highly regarded internationally. Through the RepliColl research, Prof. Böker is bringing Brandenburg a project of great portent for the future with great potential for industrial companies throughout the Berlin-Brandenburg capitol region.”
Dr. Sandra Mehlhase | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
CRTD receives 1.56 Mill. Euro BMBF-funding for retinal disease research
24.05.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
BMBF funds translational project to improve radiotherapy
10.05.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences