Friday, January 21, 2011

Introducing the world's tiniest rope

Scientists have braided a rope that is less than a millionth of a meter in diameter, a major step toward self-assembling materials important for nanoscale construction and medicine. Polymers, or long chains of molecules, were coaxed into braiding themselves into wispy nanoscale ropes that approach the structural complexity of biological materials. "This hierarchical self-assembly is the hallmark of biological materials such as collagen, but designing synthetic structures that do this has been a major challenge," said Ron Zuckermann, the facility director of the Biological Nanostructures Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab) Molecular Foundry. More>