Enzymatic films for bioactive surfaces
We encounter them every day in laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, or shower gel: surfactants - surface-active substances. Surfactants belong to a category of molecules called amphiphiles, molecular hermaphrodites consisting of a water-loving (hydrophilic) "head" and a water-hating (hydrophobic) "tail". Most surfacants are small amphiphilic molecules. However, an international research team working with Roeland J. M. Nolte, University of Nijmegen, has now built "giant amphiphiles", hybrid molecules made of proteins and polymers. These new molecules are not just meant to clean better, they could find uses in biochips as well.
What’s so special about amphiphiles? In aqueous solutions, they organize themselves so that the hydrophobic tails have as little contact with the water as possible. This leads to structures such as micelles, vesicles, or films on the surface of the water (with the amphiphiles’ heads in the water and their tails in the air).
Frank Maass | alohagalileo
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