Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Proteins in Focus

15.12.2011
Adjustable protein microlenses made by femtosecond laser direct writing

Whether it’s right under our nose or far away, when we observe an object we see it—provided we have healthy eyes and normal vision or suitable glasses—in focus. For this to work, muscles deform the lenses of our eyes and adjust them to a suitable focal distance.

For miniaturized technical devices, microscale lenses with a similar adaptable focus could be an advantage. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Hong-Bo Sun and a team from Jilin University (China) have described a new approach to the production of adjustable microlenses made from protein gels.

Proteins are potentially useful as “building materials” for microcomponents because they are readily available, inexpensive, and biocompatible. They can also change their properties in response to external stimuli, which makes them an interesting material for use in adjustable microlenses. However, lenses must be extremely precise in order to meet optical requirements—something difficult to achieve with proteins. In addition, they must be fast, simple, and inexpensive to produce.

The Chinese researchers have now met this challenge: They used a laser to “write” the desired micrometer-sized lens shape out of a solution of bovine serum albumin, a protein. Methylene blue acts as a photosensitizer, which captures the light energy like an antenna and triggers a crosslinking reaction of the protein molecules. Driven by a computer, the laser cuts out the desired three-dimensional form voxel by voxel. A voxel is a three-dimensional pixel, a tiny segment of volume. The irradiation used is in femtosecond pulses, which lasts on the order of 10-13 seconds. The crosslinking reaction only takes place in the locations that are irradiated. After the reaction, the protein molecules that have not reacted can simply be rinsed away. What stays behind is a cross-linked, aqueous protein gel in the shapes of micrometer-sized lenses.

Direct writing with lasers usually results in structures that have too rough a surface for optical applications. By optimizing the duration of the laser pulse, the pulse intensity, and the protein concentration, Sun and his team obtained lenses with outstanding optical properties.

The special trick in this case is that the amount of liquid absorbed by the protein gel depends on the pH value of the solution. Increasing the pH causes the lens to swell. If the increase in thickness is limited by a glass surface, the lens primarily grows in width and becomes flatter. If the pH value is reduced, the gel shrinks and the lens is more curved. Because the radius of curvature determines the focal length of the lens, this method can be used to focus the microlenses.

Because the protein lenses are biocompatible, they may be used in optical analytical systems for medical diagnostics or lab-on-a-chip technology.

About the Author
Dr Hong-Bo Sun is a Changjiang Professor at Jilin University, China. His main specialty is laser micronanofabrication, by which various micro-optical, microelectronic, micromechnical, microfludic, and biomimetic structures and devices have been designed and fabricated in his group.
Author: Hong-Bo Sun, Jilin University, Changchun (China), http://www.lasun-jlu.cn/people.php
Title: Dynamically Tunable Protein Microlenses
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201105925

Hong-Bo Sun | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Dead cells disrupt how immune cells respond to wounds and patrol for infection
21.05.2019 | University of Sheffield

nachricht New study shows: Tropical corals reflect ocean acidification
21.05.2019 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Synthesis of helical ladder polymers

21.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

Ultra-thin superlattices from gold nanoparticles for nanophotonics

21.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

Chaperones keep the tumor suppressor protein p53 in check: How molecular escorts help prevent cancer

21.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>