New Self-Assembling Nanofibers Created
I would never hazard to guess just how many scientific discoveries were the result of serendipity, but I do know the number is continuously growing. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered a way to create protein/polymer nanostructures that will self-assemble by pure curiosity.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) molecules are fairly well-known and understood, and are used in many experiments. Typically GFP molecules will not bind with each other, but when the researchers added PEO-dialkyne linkers to them, the molecules assembled into long fibers. Even in this assembled state, the molecules were still fluorescent, which is important as it shows their structures were not compromised. When the researchers exposed the fibers to sound waves, they found that the structures disassembled back into the GFP molecules, but after a few days, self-assembled again.
Scientists have been looking for a material capable of reversible fibrous self-assembly for some time, as it would have uses in tissue engineering, drug delivery, nanoreactors, and imaging. As the researchers have already successfully modelled the process, this discovery could be used for precision manipulation of nanoscale objects.
Source: Carnegie Mellon University