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 Scientific achievements during the operation of Lomonosov satellite
18.12.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms
18.12.2017 | Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw

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: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>