Home > News > The Materialist
October 16th, 2008
Earlier this year, Francesco Stellacci announced that his group had developed a material that can suck 20 times its weight in oil out of a sample of water. The material could be used to clean up massive crude spills, and chemist Joerg Lahann of the University of Michigan called the work a blueprint for scientists who hope to design nanomaterials that protect the environment. Yet Stellacci doesn't consider this his best work. He's excited about tricking cells.
Stellacci's first major step came in 2003, when he created a peculiar coating for metallic nanoparticles. He had been wondering what would happen if hydrophilic, or water-loving, molecules, and their opposites, hydrophobes, were stuck together on the surface of a nanosize sphere. So he ran an experiment and found that the molecules self-organized into alternating stripes, like lines of latitude on a globe. A belt of tiny, spherical hydrophilic molecules sat atop a band of hydrophobes, and so on from top to bottom.
These stripes are not only aesthetically attractive, they gave his particles new properties. Typically, when materials try to enter a cell, they either get swallowed up and spat out, or they damage it by poking a hole in its membrane. But Stellacci's striped nanoparticles slipped right in. "The cell has a security system," he says, "and somehow my particles trick it."
Novel Method Found for Connection of Metallic Alloys to Polymers November 23rd, 2014
Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014
Total Nanofiber Solutions Company FibeRioŽ Launches The Fiber EngineŽ FX Series Systems with 10X Increase in Output November 18th, 2014
Nanocomposites Strengthen Bone Implants November 13th, 2014
Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers
Researchers engineer improvements of technology used in digital memory November 24th, 2014
Research reveals how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei November 24th, 2014
ASU, IBM move ultrafast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology a step closer to reality November 24th, 2014
An Inside Job: UC-Designed Nanoparticles Infiltrate, Kill Cancer Cells From Within November 24th, 2014