Stories tagged self-assembly


Materials science

Materials scientists figure out ways to make things stronger, cheaper, or better. A favorite technique is nano-self-assembly. Just mix together the right ingredients and "presto", you get a wonder material. Another great development would be for the material to be self-repairing.

Self healing solar cells

MIT scientist, Michael Strano, and his team have created a material made up of seven different compounds including carbon nanotubes, phospholipids, and proteins. Under the right conditions they spontaneously assemble themselves into a light-harvesting structure that produces an electric current. The assembly breaks apart when a surfactant (think soapy solution) is added but reassemble when it is removed. These new self-healing solar cells are already about double the efficiency of today’s best solar cells but could potentially be many times more efficient.

Learn more about self-healing solar cells


A severed spinal cord or damage to the the optic nerve used to be considered irrepairable. Recent developments by researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Hong Kong, and the Fourth Military Medical University,, Xian, China have used a self-assembling peptide scaffold to repair severed brain structures in blind rodents and restore their sight[Ellis-Behnke et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (2006) 103, 5054].

Injecting a 1% peptide scaffold solution into the gap between severed brain tissue promoted axon regrowth and a closing up of the gap. The self-assembling material biodegrades and does not appear to provoke a significant immune response. A second series of experiments will look at repairing damage due to strokes.

Source: nanotoday