Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cellular Construction Methods Emulated

05.03.2008
Versatile compartmentalized nanostructures by orthogonal aggregation of surfactants and gelators

Not only is our body made of individual organs, our cells themselves are made of tiny organelles, a variety of separate compartments that fulfill different tasks. Such functional, nanostructured systems would also be useful for technical applications, such as biosensors, self-repairing materials, optoelectronic components, or nanocapsules.

However, it has not been possible to recreate structures with sufficient complexity in the lab. Researchers in the Netherlands, led by Jan van Esch at the Universities of Delft and Groningen as well as the BioMaDe Technology Foundation, are now pursuing a new angle. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they allow surfactants and gelators to form aggregates. These aggregates coexist without interfering with each other and thus make versatile, highly complex structures with separate compartments.

Cells contain various components, such as channels, “motors”, structural frameworks (cytoskeleton), and “power plants” (mitochondria). In order for these to form, their building blocks, mainly proteins and lipids, must “recognize” each other and form the correct assembly by self-aggregation. In addition, it is critical that compatible components do not separate into different phases: when proteins fold, the water-loving (hydrophilic) and water-repellent (hydrophobic) parts of the molecule stay far away from each other and aggregate with “like-minded” components. Biomembranes are formed when many small lipid molecules aggregate such that their hydrophobic “tails” face inward together and their hydrophilic “heads” point outward toward the aqueous medium.

The Dutch team imitated this concept by using two types of self-aggregating compounds: surfactants and gelators. Like the lipids in natural membranes, surfactants have a hydrophilic segment and a hydrophobic segment and aggregate into structures such as membrane-like double layers or vesicles (bubbles). To imitate the forces involved in protein folding—hydrogen-bridge bonds and hydrophobic interactions—the team used a disk-shaped gelator, in which hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecular components alternate in concentric rings. Just as for proteins, like attracts like. This causes the disks to stack together into columns, which forms long fibers, generating a three-dimensional network in the solution to make a gel.

The researchers allow their surfactants and gelators to aggregate together. In this process, the different components take no notice of each other. This independent formation of different supramolecular structures within a single system is called orthogonal self-aggregation. This results in the formation of novel, complex, compartmentalized architectures, for example, interpenetrating but independent networks or vesicle configurations that coexist with gel fibers.

Author: Jan van Esch, University of Delft (The Netherlands), http://www.tudelft.nl/live/pagina.jsp?id=32e323ab-be78-43e4-96db-e6452fc418e5&lang=en

Title: Preparation of Nanostructures by Orthogonal Self-Assembly of Hydrogelators and Surfactants

Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 11, 2063–2066, doi: 10.1002/anie.200704609

Jan van Esch | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org
http://www.tudelft.nl/live/pagina.jsp?id=32e323ab-be78-43e4-96db-e6452fc418e5&lang=en

Further reports about: Components Gelator Lipid hydrophilic hydrophobic surfactants

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists discover species of dolphin that existed along South Carolina coast
24.08.2017 | New York Institute of Technology

nachricht The science of fluoride flipping
24.08.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists discover species of dolphin that existed along South Carolina coast

24.08.2017 | Life Sciences

The science of fluoride flipping

24.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Optimizing therapy planning for cancers of the liver

24.08.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>