Groundbreaking Research Paves Way for Preprogrammable Self-Assembly of Nanoparticles
by YONA GIDALEVITZ on Nov 13, 2013
Nanotechnology has been the focus of vast global research in recent years, producing advancements in materials sciences, medicine, and other relevant fields on a scale previously unimaginable. However, due to it’s relative infancy, nanotechnology research has been largely divided. Scientists research similar methods of developing nanocomponents, with similar medical goals, for example. Hence, a unified design process could be an extremely beneficial step in bringing nanotech capabilities to medical/biological researchers.
A team of German and Finnish researchers seem to have designed a preprogrammable system of self assembling nanoparticles, that can be customized for a range of practical uses. The self assembly process begins with triblock terpolymers, chain-like macromolecules readily available to researchers, with specific chemical properties necessary for the functionality of the finished nanoparticle (just as amino acids code for proteins) . The researchers used two types of terpolymers, so-called A-B-C and A-D-C molecules, with 1 and 2 bonding sites respectively. The number of bonding sites and the chemical properties of the molecules are crucial in the design of the self assembly process, as the two types of molecules aggregate of their own inherent chemical properties when dissolved together, forming soft nanoparticles approximately 50 nanometers in diameter. These particles may then aggregate into the next level of a hierarchical nanostructure, depending on the design.
This new development could be a crucial one in the world of nanotechnology and nanomedicine, as all it would take to specialize this technology for any medical application is to tailor the macromolecules with a set of specific chemical properties. Hence, if this self assembly process is perfected, it could be used by medical researchers and biologists around the world in the design of specialized nanomedicines.