Biomimetics is the science that tries to imitate nature’s solutions to various problems. One approach is to apply biological principles to the construction of new products, another to copy molecular building blocks for new purposes.
Researchers at the Section for Molecular Physics at Linköping University in Sweden got interested in proteins that exist in fish in polar areas, such as flounders, in order to keep their blood from freezing. Arctic sea water can reach -2 degrees centigrade, a temperature where normal fish would freeze to death.
Doctoral student Annika Borgh started a project to try to utilize properties of these anti-freeze proteins, which exist in two forms: with and without a sugar group attached. The proteins bind to the surface of tiny ‘ice embryos’ and prevent the formation of ice crystals.
In the fish, the protein is loose in the blood, but Annika Borgh wanted to have them on a surface, such as on an airplane wing, where they might be able to prevent the formation of ice, which is a huge problem at airports in winter. But the proteins don’t like being on surfaces, so she developed molecules with sugar and methyl groups, though without the protein skeleton as such. These were applied to a plate with a surface of gold, where they organized themselves in a so-called monolayer.
Water was condensed on the surface, and the plate was chilled. The surprising result was that the water froze at a higher temperature when there were anti-freeze molecules on the surface than when they weren’t there.
“The anti-freeze protein probably functions only in solutions, where it can prevent ice embryos from forming from all directions. Instead, we should be able to make use of the reverse effect, to freeze ice rinks using less energy, for instance, or perhaps to develop a polymer with these properties that can be painted onto a surface,” says Annika Borgh.
Åke Hjelm | alfa
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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...
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...
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,...
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...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy