Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular engineers consult nature

11.09.2002


Nature has been manipulating structures on the atomic and molecular scale for millions of years, in comparison humans have only been developing these techniques over the last few decades. Molecular engineering builds structures and devices at the smallest scales imaginable, aiming to make better materials, new types of information technologies, biomedical devices and much more. In an article, `Natural strategies for the molecular engineer`, published today in the Institute of Physics` journal, Nanotechnology, Philip Ball, consultant editor of Nature, discusses how molecular engineers can learn from the designs and tricks employed by nature - in processes ranging from catalysis to mechanical motion, energy conversion, information processing and materials synthesis.



Ball said: "In several sectors of engineering, the components have been shrinking in size for many decades. Now the scale is approaching the proportions of living cells, and we can see that engineers are confronting many, if not most, of the same challenges as biological cells. They need to make materials to harness, convert and transmit energy, to store and process information and to generate motion."

However, Ball points out that nature`s solutions are often quite different to those we use. For example, leaves are essentially cheap and reasonably efficient solar cells and some of nature`s catalysts, enzymes, carry out chemical reactions of a delicacy far exceeding that of their man-made industrial counterparts.


Although nature has much to teach us, Ball also warns that we should be careful of always assuming that `nature knows best`. The cell does not necessarily share the same objectives as an engineer and there is no reason to believe that nature always does things the most efficient way. Bell suggests that molecular engineers adopt a selective attitude, picking and choosing what may be useful from nature`s bag of tricks.

Joanne Aslett | alfa
Further information:
http://www.iop.org/journals/nano

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>