Mimic the Complexity of Nature: Create New Materials Using Viruses

According to a study released on Thursday – Scientists and engineers from the University of California have used viruses to create complex structures, self organizing at different scales.This process  could facilitate the production of new materials. 

Mimic the complexity of nature- a new process with virusesPhoto taken in Costa Rica October 6, 2011 at Museum of Natural History in New York)

Iridescent colors of butterfly wings, collagen fibers, abundant protein in mammals, plant cellulose. The architecture of complex biological molecules have fascinated scientists who wish to be inspired to create innovative biomaterials. Mimic the live or “biomimicry.”

“We are very curious to understand how nature can create a multiplicity of structures and functions from simple building blocks, such as collagen to animal or plant cellulose to” explain Seung-Wuk Lee and his team of University of California.

Depending on how fit together and moving its fibers, collagen can form the transparent tissue of the cornea, those colored skin or interfere with bone formation.

Self-organization at different scales which “surpasses” complexity that man can produce using traditional production methods, they point out in the British scientific journal Nature.

Hence their use of bacteria, viruses, phages M13, as tools of nanometric size, to mimic the complexity of life.

These filamentous phages were stored in saline which were immersed glass slides to which they could settle.

By varying the concentration of the solution, the proportion of virus it contained and the speed at which the glass slides were removed, and therefore one to which the water evaporated, the researchers obtained three types of different films.

Simple alternating bands of filaments for the simplest helical ribbons, bundles of helical filaments in undulating waves to the most complex, these structures had different properties, including color and iridescence.

We have not only imitated the biological structures, we also discovered that they had seen or structures in nature or in the laboratory,” say the researchers were also able to grow layers of biological cells by taking supports movies created by the virus.

The process could be used to create new materials based on liquid crystals or permit to repair the biological tissues.

This type of experience can also help to better understand how aggregate amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, advances in a statement, Joseph Akkara, program manager of the agency Biomateraux American National Science Foundation has provided funding for this research.



Posted by on October 24, 2011. Filed under Articles, Innovation, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.