Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Watching molecules grow into microtubes

Date:
February 22, 2013
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Sometimes the best discoveries come by accident. A team of researchers unexpectedly found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes by leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.

A team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, headed by Srikanth Singamaneni, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, unexpectedly found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes by leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.
Credit: Image courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis

Sometimes the best discoveries come by accident.

A team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, headed by Srikanth Singamaneni, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, unexpectedly found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes by leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.

Once Singamaneni and his research team, including Abdennour Abbas, PhD, a former postdoctoral researcher at Washington University, Andrew Brimer, a senior undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering, and Limei Tian, a fourth-year graduate student, saw that these molecules had become microtubes, they set out to find out how.

To do so, they spent about six months investigating the process at various length scales (nano to micro) using various microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.

The results were published in the journal Small.

"What we showed was that we can actually watch the self-assembly of small molecules across multiple length scales, and for the first time, stitched these length scales to show the complete picture," Singamaneni says. "This hierarchical self-organization of molecular building blocks is unprecedented since it is initiated from a single molecular crystal and is driven by vesiclular dynamics in water."

Self-assembly, a process in which a disordered collection of components arrange themselves into an ordered structure, is of growing interest as a new paradigm in creating micro- and nanoscale structures and functional systems and subsystems. This novel approach of making nano- and microstructures and devices is expected to have numerous applications in electronics, optics and biomedical applications.

The team used small molecules p-aminothiophenol (p-ATP) or p-aminophenyl disulfide added to water with a small amount of ethanol. The molecules first assembled into nanovesicles then into microvesicles and eventually into centimeter-long microtubules. The vesicles stick onto the surface of the tube, walk along the surface and attach themselves, causing the tube to grow longer and wider. The entire process takes mere seconds, with the growth rate of 20 microns per second.

"While it was exciting to watch the self-assembly of these molecules, we are even more excited about the implications of the self-assembly of such small molecules," Singamaneni says. "This mechanism can be used to load the vesicles with the desired macromolecules, such as proteins, antibodies or antibiotics, for example, and build microtubes with a biological function."

Singamaneni says his research team collaborated with researchers in Singapore who are experts in molecular crystals, as well as with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry.

"We hope that once we can co-assemble some functional nanostructures along with these small molecules, then these molecular assemblies can have applications in biological sensors and chemical sensors," Singamaneni says.

Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Army Research Office and Army Research Laboratory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Beth Miller. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Abdennour Abbas, Andrew Brimer, Limei Tian, D. Andrι d'Avignon, Abdulrahman Shahul Hameed, Jagadese J. Vittal, Srikanth Singamaneni. Vesicle-Mediated Growth of Tubular Branches and Centimeter-Long Microtubes from a Single Molecule. Small, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/smll.201202509

Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Watching molecules grow into microtubes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130222120707.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2013, February 22). Watching molecules grow into microtubes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130222120707.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Watching molecules grow into microtubes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130222120707.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) — Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. 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