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
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences