Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Self-assembly Used To Make Molecule-sized Particles With Patches Of Charge

Date:
October 21, 2009
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Physicists, chemists and engineers have demonstrated a novel method for the controlled formation of patchy particles, using charged, self-assembling molecules that may one day serve as drug-delivery vehicles to combat disease and perhaps be used in small batteries that store and release charge.

Physicists, chemists and engineers at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a novel method for the controlled formation of patchy particles, using charged, self-assembling molecules that may one day serve as drug-delivery vehicles to combat disease and perhaps be used in small batteries that store and release charge.

Researchers demonstrated that the positive electrical charges of calcium ions -- just like the calcium in teeth and bone -- can form bridges between negatively charged polymers that would normally repel each other. The polymers, similar to the lipids that make the membranes surrounding living cells, have both a water-loving part linked to a water-repelling part. On the surfaces of these cell-sized polymer sacks, the calcium ions create calcium-rich islands or patches on top of negatively-charged polymer. Copper ions also work, and the patches can be made to coalesce and cover half of the particle. This polarized structure is the basic arrangement needed to set up, for example, the two electrodes of a microscopic battery. They could also one day be functionalized into docking sites to enhance targeted delivery of drug-laden particles to cells.

While the concept seems simple, that opposite charges attract, the creation and control of patches on one small particle has been a challenge. Scientists like Dennis E. Discher, principal investigator of the study and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Penn, are designing materials at the nanoscale because future technologies will increasingly rely on structures with distinct and controlled surfaces. Physicians, for example, will improve medical therapies by wrapping drugs within the bioengineered polymer sacks, or by creating tiny biomedical sensors. Green energy production and storage will also require structures with scales no longer measured by inches, but by micrometers and nanometers.

The collaboration involved faculty from Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences, and demonstrated, more specifically, the selective binding of multivalent cationic ligands within a mixture of both polyanionic and non-ionic amphiphiles that all co-assemble into either patchy sacks called vesicles or molecular cylinders called worm-like micelles. Similar principles have been explored with lipids in the field of membrane biophysics because calcium is key to many cellular signaling processes. The trick is that the energy of attraction of opposite charges must be adjusted to find a balance with the large entropic price for localization into spots. If the attractions are too large, the ions precipitate, just like adding too much sugar to tea or coffee.

Using a little bit of acid or a little of base, the patchy polymer vesicles and cylinders can be made with tunable sizes, shapes and spacings. Assemblies with single large patches are called Janus assemblies, named after the double-faced Roman god, and the assemblies generally last for years because these are polymer-based structures.

"The key advance we present in this study is the restricted range of conditions that are required for self assembly in these solutions," Discher said. "We show that, in addition to polymers, negatively-charged cell lipids which are involved in all sorts of cell-signaling processes like cell motion and cancer mechanics, can also make domains or islands with calcium."

The work is representative of national research into soft matter, materials constructed from organic molecules like lipids, peptides and nucleic acids. A properly designed molecular system can produce a wide array of nanostructures and microstructures, emulating and extending what is found in nature.

The study, published as the cover article in the journal Nature Materials, was conducted by members of Penn's Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, including David A. Christian, Aiwei Tian and Karthikan Rajagopal of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Wouter G. Ellenbroek and Andrea J. Liu of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Ilya Levental of the Bioengineering Graduate Group; Paul A. Janmey of the Department of Physiology; Tobias Baumgart of the Department of Chemistry; and Discher.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christian et al. Spotted vesicles, striped micelles and Janus assemblies induced by ligand binding. Nature Materials, 2009; 8 (10): 843 DOI: 10.1038/nmat2512

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Self-assembly Used To Make Molecule-sized Particles With Patches Of Charge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091020181303.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2009, October 21). Self-assembly Used To Make Molecule-sized Particles With Patches Of Charge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091020181303.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Self-assembly Used To Make Molecule-sized Particles With Patches Of Charge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091020181303.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) Speaking about the future of the United States Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh says the choice to divest the A-10 fleet was logical and least impactful. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jets Fuel Jump in Boeing's Revenue

Jets Fuel Jump in Boeing's Revenue

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 23, 2014) A sharp rise in revenue for commercial jets offset a decline in Boeing's defense business. And a big increase in deliveries lifted profitability. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins