Catch me!

Catch me! Synthetic nanofibers reach out like fingers and capture a nanoparticle. Each fiber is 1/1000th the width of a human hair. Inspired by biology, Harvard’s Joanna Aizenberg uses nanofabrication strategies to design completely synthetic structures capable of complex functions.

Here, liquid evaporates around an ordered array of epoxy bristles to confer bending forces. These forces spontaneously shape the nanofibers into Medusa like helical bundles, and bundles of bundles, that can capture and release small particles for drug delivery or photonics. In essence, the bundles store elastic energy and information.

The work sounds like fun too. Aizenberg said, “Indeed,our helical patterns are so amazingly aesthetic that often we would stop the scientific discussion and argue about mythology, modern dreadlocks, alien creatures, or sculptures”.

Read More: http://aizenberglab.seas.harvard.edu/index.php?show=research_project&proj=51

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50 Responses to Catch me!

  1. Squid E says:


    The one on the left looks like the Firefox logo.

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Simon Skiles , they are mimicking similar structures at the same scale seen in biology: DNA fibers, amyloid fibers, cilia, cellulose fibrils…


  3. Fantastic stuff…the applications of this will be endless…

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    They say that they can predict and generate structures of specific chirality (twist direction) and shape.

  5. Rajini Rao says:


    Just think, Thex Dar , you could have dreadlocks anywhere you wanted πŸ™‚

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    Prabat Parmal , depends on what they are being designed to do. Optical fibers can be as thin as human hair or much thicker. These nanobristles can self assemble because of the unique way in which they are formed.

  7. Rajini Rao says:


    More info in the link..they have free papers uploaded. Feel free to check them out πŸ™‚


  8. Ramen! That looks like the flying spaghetti monster! (Sorry, I know this is a serious thread…but it is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the pictures.)


  9. Wow. I wonder how cost-effective this will ultimately prove in terms of building scalable materials… Very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Rajini Rao.


  10. I think it’s a legitimate question, Prabat Parmal. When innovations like this transform the fundamental economics of producing things we already produce, they introduce radical change in the world. Of course, ideas like this can also release fundamentally new applications we can’t even conceive of as well.

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    But these are serious noodly appendages, Christine Paluch πŸ˜‰


  12. Rajini Rao Sometimes I wonder if scientists include pictures like the black and white ones as little inside jokes.

  13. Rajini Rao says:


    One driving force is synthetic biology: the ability to replace worn out nanostructures with these tunable constructions. The researchers also suggest that they can direct flow at a submicron scale.


    It’s great to have material engineering intersect with biology. I have more examples of that coming up in a future post, stay tuned πŸ™‚

  14. Rajini Rao says:


    I hope they do, Christine Paluch πŸ™‚ There’s plenty of humor in the lab.

  15. Rajini Rao says:


    Peter Lindelauf , does this not belong to Rich Pollett ‘s post on the blue orb πŸ™‚


    I β™‘ Mark Knopfler. Feisal Kamil introduced me to Mark Knopfler – The Trawlerman’s Song + lyrics and I am forever in his debt.

  16. Rajini Rao says:


    My threads always start off serious. They rarely end that way thanks to some strenuous threadjacking πŸ˜‰

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    Would you believe it, Peter Lindelauf , this is the junk mail I receive at work πŸ™‚ I used to just delete it, but thanks to G+, I keep it around for a day or two first. These images are from the Picture Gallery that the journal Cell has on its web site. They showcase different stuff. If I like something, then I go find the relevant information. Pretty simple πŸ™‚

  18. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, Jan Costantini , that hypothesis will be put to the test soon πŸ™‚ Besides, exceptions are always made for Pink Floyd.

  19. Rajini Rao says:


    Ah, the first of my hypothesis testers has arrived πŸ™‚ Where are Chad Haney and Mahesh Sreekandath? Let’s see if the “corrective finger of doom” is effective πŸ˜›


    Edit: uh oh, Gnotic Pasta is here too πŸ™‚

  20. Rajini Rao says:


    Confuzzled Feisal, LOL.


  21. How to change the shape and size of these nano fibers according to one’s requirements….obviously at such small levels one can’t do so by just putting em into molds like one can do while baking a cake….LOL

  22. Rajini Rao says:


    Sudhanshu Pathania , the shapes are formed with the liquid around these bristles evaporates, just like a paintbrush dries out and forms a pointed end. They can adjust the liquid and the way it dries to make different shapes.

  23. Rajini Rao says:


    I wouldn’t be here if the threads were not fun for me too, Peter Lindelauf . Believe me, they are! So keep on trolling trucking πŸ˜‰


  24. Feisal Kamil hope they come with an instruction manual then….and thanks Rajini Rao for the info…

  25. Rajini Rao says:


    The nice thing about Harvard Engineering and Applied Scientists is that the instruction manuals are built into their brains πŸ™‚


  26. I’m waiting for programmable nano bots…like the ones in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra…. πŸ˜‰

  27. Rajini Rao says:


    Awesome blog, Mahesh Sreekandath , Biomimesis is exactly the subject of this post (wow…way to stay on topic)! I liked this:How can problem solving methods be abstracted enough to be applied across a myriad of domains? The big challenge here may not be bringing together a bunch of experts from widely different domains but it might be about successfully harnessing their understanding and also in finding ways to make them all talk in the same β€œlanguage”.


    Here, we have a biologist posting something on nanophysics to a bunch of engineers (or programmers) πŸ™‚ Inevitably, this must lead to a tower of Babel.


  28. now the discussion has moved on from nano fibers to rise of cobras….that’s great πŸ™‚

  29. Rajini Rao says:


    Looks like a great read, Feisal Kamil ! Arthur C.Clarke award, satirist humor..I’ll look for it, thanks πŸ™‚

  30. Rajini Rao says:


    Hmm, anything other than Elton John (not a fan). Mahesh Sreekandath , read an eBook then πŸ™‚

  31. Rajini Rao says:


    Eeek, the music is going downhill from Elton John. Mahesh Sreekandath , what is that pretty boy singing..pop?


  32. Mahesh Sreekandath sry buddy could’t view the video as the


    The uploader has not made this video in my country…I don’t know why??? and Feisal Kamil Rainbow-Gates of Babylon sounds like music from Arabian Knights….

  33. Rajini Rao says:


    Awesome, Feisal Kamil (Gates of Babylon).

  34. Rajini Rao says:


    Mahesh Sreekandath , you get a +1 from my 13 year old for Guns N’ Roses (he took a moment off his video game to cheer..yes, I’m a bad mum, but he has a holiday tomorrow).

  35. Rajini Rao says:


    I don’t know, but you can bet that mine are πŸ™‚

  36. Rajini Rao says:


    Feisal Kamil , I only need raise that “corrective finger of doom” for all the critters in my garden to lie down in sacrifice. BTW, Snow Crash has been wirelessly delivered to my Kindle and awaits my reading pleasure πŸ™‚

  37. Rajini Rao says:


    I grew up on rock, thanks to an older brother.

  38. Rajini Rao says:


    Hey check out Derya Unutmaz’s last post..had me ROFL’ing. https://plus.google.com/106772544387169323774/posts/FyYBFkmxg46

  39. Keith Old says:


    You put up some amazing photo’s at times.

  40. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, Keith Old . Nanofibers are amazing πŸ™‚

  41. Kevin Clift says:


    The Economist ran an interesting piece at the end of last year, on the intersection between additive manufacturing and biomimicry: http://www.economist.com/node/21541382

  42. Rajini Rao says:


    That was a great read, thanks Kevin Clift . Printing artificial hips, moving car mirrors with neural-like networks of commands, and robotic aircraft with ‘cytoskeletons’..the shape of the future looks promising!

  43. Rajini Rao says:


    No time for breakfast 😦 Only coffee. Miserable rainy day and had to run in to moderate a class (but seeing super smart young people cheered me up- as do my G+ friends).

  44. Rajini Rao says:


    I am the energy bar, Feisal Kamil πŸ˜‰ That site is an old favorite, thanks Prabat Parmal . May not be wise for me to succumb to death and doom while I try to do some work, Mahesh Sreekandath !

  45. Kevin Clift says:


    There’s some more bio-mimicry news today from MIT.


    The researchers say they drew their inspiration from nature, where textured surfaces ranging from lotus leaves to desert-beetle carapaces and moth eyes have developed in ways that often fulfill multiple purposes at once.


    http://www.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/glare-dust-and-fog-free-glass-0426.html

  46. Kevin Clift says:


    There must be something in the air. Here in the news scientists have developed a protective nanotech coating for cotton that not only repels water (and possibly micro-organisms) but does not wash off so easily.


    This development too cites bio-mimicry.


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17852304


    http://www.deakin.edu.au/about/facilities/affric/future-fibres.php


    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/la300281q?journalCode=langd5

  47. Vidya karuna says:


    looks like dry worms


  48. Right photo = spaghetti monster…

  49. Maha lakshmi says:


    Very nice and informative Rajini

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