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Self-Assembling Nanostructures

August 1, 2007

Berkeley researchers have found an easy way to make crystal-studded nanorods: self-assembly.

These rods would be useful in devices that convert light or heat into electricity, such as high-efficiency solar cells.

Synthesizing these nanorods in the past required special conditions such as a vacuum and micromanagement from chemists. Now the nanorods can be synthesized by putting the ingredients in a test tube, stirring, and letting them emerge independently.… read more

Self-assembling nanotubes

August 13, 2001

The principle that makes DNA strands link together may someday be used to manufacture molecular wires and other components for use in electronic devices, according to Hicham Fenniri, an assistant professor of chemistry at Purdue Univ. To develop the self-assembling structures, Fenniri and his colleagues borrowed chemistry from DNA to create a series of molecules that are “programmed” to link in groups of six to form rosette-shaped rings, which then… read more

Self-assembling nanotubes offer promise for future artificial joints

April 12, 2004
Self-assembly of rosettes

Researchers have discovered that bone cells called osteoblasts attach better to nanotube-coated titanium than to conventional titanium used to make artificial joints.

Conventional titanium used in artificial joints has surface features on the scale of microns, causing the body to recognize them as foreign and prompting a rejection response. This eventually weakens the attachment of the implants and causes them to become loose and painful, requiring replacement… read more

Self-assembling photovoltaic technology can keep repairing itself

September 7, 2010

This proof-of-concept version of the photoelectrochemical cell, which was used for laboratory tests, contains a photoactive solution made up of a mix of self-assembling molecules (in a glass cylinder held in place by metal clamp) with two electrodes protruding from the top, one made of platinum (the bare wire) and the other of silver (in a glass tube). (Patrick Gillooly)

MIT scientists have created a novel set of self-assembling molecules that can turn sunlight into electricity; the molecules can be repeatedly broken down and then reassembled quickly, just by adding or removing an additional solution.

In an attempt to imitate the  process of photosynthesis, Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and his team, supported by grants from the MIT Energy Initiative, the Eni… read more

Self-assembling polymer arrays improve data storage potential

August 15, 2008

University of Wisconsin-Madison and Hitachi have achieved higher data-storage density by using self-assembling block copolymers to shrink the size of the pattern manufacturing templates used in disk drives and other data-storage devices, paving the way to smaller electronic devices and higher-capacity hard drives.

When added to a lithographically patterned surface, the copolymers’ long molecular chains spontaneously assemble into the designated arrangements, down to the molecular level. The method offers… read more

Self-assembling printable robotic components

June 2, 2014


Printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically self-assemble into prescribed three-dimensional configurations have been developed by MIT researchers.

Printable robots that can be assembled from parts produced by 3-D printers have long been a topic of research in the lab of Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

The printable robotic components are… read more

Self-assembling silica microwires may herald new generation of integrated optical devices

January 24, 2013

This image shows self-assembled silica wires illuminated by HeNe (helium-neon) laser light from one end (credit: John Canning)

By carefully controlling the shape of water droplets with an ultraviolet laser, a team of researchers from Australia and France has found a way to coax silica (silicon dioxide) nanoparticles to self-assemble into highly uniform silica wires, hair-like slivers of silica.

Such silica microwires could enable applications and technology not currently possible with comparatively bulky optical fiber.

The international team describes the research in a paper… read more

Self-assembling smart scaffolds aim to rebuild tissue and future organs

Smart scaffolding can guide cells, proteins, and small-molecule drugs to make new tissue and repair damage inside the body
November 14, 2012

At top, a graphic shows multidomain peptide self-assembling into a nanofiber. The scanning electron microscope image at bottom left shows formed nanofibers; at bottom right, a histological section of cells (blue dots) grows in a dentin cylinder, where they mimic the desired dental-pulp regeneration. (Credit: Hartgerink Lab/Rice University)

A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry has received a $1.7 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a hydrogel that can be injected into a patient to form an active biological scaffold for tooth repair, and possibly spinal cord regeneration, among other uses.

Rice bioengineer Jeffrey Hartgerink and co-investigator Rena D’Souza of Baylor won… read more

Self-assembling solar panels a step closer

January 15, 2010

University of Minnesota researchers have developed a method for self-assembling and electrically connecting small (20-60 micrometer) semiconductor chiplets at predetermined locations on flexible substrates at high speed (62500 chips in 45 seconds).

The process could find uses in numerous applications such as solar cells, video displays, and semiconductors.

Self-assembling structures open door to new class of materials

January 14, 2011

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have demonstrated bio-inspired structures that self-assemble from simple building blocks: spheres.

The helical “supermolecules” are made of tiny colloid balls instead of atoms or molecules. Similar methods could be used to make new materials with the functionality of complex colloidal molecules. The team will publish its findings in the Jan. 14 issue of the journal Science.

“We can now make… read more

Self-Assembling Tissues

July 15, 2008
(Ali Khademhosseini)

MIT and Harvard Medical School bioengineers have created “living Legos” — building blocks of biofriendly gels of various shapes studded with cells that can self-assemble into complex structures resembling those found in tissues.

They are currently working on making more-complex self-assembling structures that resemble the repeating units of the liver, the pancreas, and heart muscle.

Self-assembling vehicles take flight

June 10, 2010


A “Distributed Flight Array” of miniature vehicles that can self-assemble and then take off vertically and fly as a stable array has been developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Each vehicle has its own motor and flight control system and is equipped with a computer, sensors, and wireless communication systems. When the vehicles are joined together, the combination becomes a sophisticated flight platform capable of coordinated flight,… read more

Self-assembling-polymer advances could increase computer memory density fivefold

November 14, 2012


The storage capacity of hard disk drives could increase by a factor of five thanks to processes developed by chemists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin.

The researchers’ technique, which relies on self-organizing substances known as block copolymers, is being given a real-world test run in collaboration with HGST, a leading innovator in disk drives.

Near the end ofread more

Self-assembly could simplify nanotech construction

June 8, 2007

“Molecular origami” could become the latest nanotech construction technique, thanks to a Harvard University study.

The self-assembly process might yield simpler ways to make the microscopic components required by the electronics and computing industries.

Self-Assembly to Make Faster Chips

May 3, 2007

IBM has announced a novel process that uses self-assembly techniques to create air gaps that insulate wires in microprocessors.

Early results show that these air-gap insulators can increase the speed of a chip by 35 percent or allow it to consume 15 percent less power. The new process should be implemented in semiconductor facilities by 2009.

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