Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Nanoscale assembly line

On the nano assembly line, tiny biological tubes called microtubules serve as transporters for the assembly of several molecular objects.Graphics: Samuel Hertig
On the nano assembly line, tiny biological tubes called microtubules serve as transporters for the assembly of several molecular objects.

Graphics: Samuel Hertig

Abstract:
ETH researchers have realised a long-held dream: inspired by an industrial assembly line, they have developed a nanoscale production line for the assembly of biological molecules.

Nanoscale assembly line

Zurich, Switzerland | Posted on August 29th, 2014



Cars, planes and many electronic products are now built with the help of sophisticated assembly lines. Mobile assembly carriers, on to which the objects are fixed, are an important part of these assembly lines. In the case of a car body, the assembly components are attached in various work stages arranged in a precise spatial and chronological sequence, resulting in a complete vehicle at the end of the line.

The creation of such an assembly line at molecular level has been a long-held dream of many nanoscientists. "It would enable us to assemble new complex substances or materials for specific applications," says Professor Viola Vogel, head of the Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology at ETH Zurich. Vogel has been working on this ambitious project together with her team and has recently made an important step. In a paper published in the latest issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Lab on a Chip journal, the ETH researchers presented a molecular assembly line featuring all the elements of a conventional production line: a mobile assembly carrier, an assembly object, assembly components attached at various assembly stations and a motor (including fuel) for the assembly carrier to transport the object from one assembly station to the next.
Production line three times thinner than a hair

At the nano level, the assembly line takes the form of a microfluid platform into which an aqueous solution is pumped. This platform is essentially a canal system with the main canal just 30 micrometres wide - three times thinner than a human hair. Several inflows and outflows lead to and from the canal at right angles. The platform was developed by Vogel's PhD student Dirk Steuerwald and the prototype was created in the clean room at the IBM Research Centre in Rüschlikon.

The canal system is fitted with a carpet made of the motor protein kinesin. This protein has two mobile heads that are moved by the energy-rich molecule ATP, which supplies the cells of humans and other life forms with energy and therefore make it the fuel of choice in this artificial system.
Assembling molecules step-by-step

The ETH researchers used microtubules as assembly carriers. Microtubules are string-like protein polymers that together with kinesin transport cargo around the cells. With its mobile heads, kinesin binds to the microtubules and propels them forward along the surface of the device. This propulsion is further supported by the current generated by the fluid being pumped into the canal system. Five inflows and outflows direct the current in the main canal and divide it into strictly separated segments: a loading area, from where the assembly carriers depart, two assembly stations and two end stations, where the cargo is delivered.

The researchers can add the objects to the system through the lines that supply the assembly segments. In their most recent work, they tested the system using NeutrAvidin, the first molecule that binds to the nanoshuttle. A second component - a single, short strand of genetic material (DNA) - then binds to the NeutrAvidin, creating a small molecular complex.
Technical applications are still a long way off

Although Vogel's team has achieved a long-held dream with this work, the ETH professor remains cautious: "The system is still in its infancy. We're still far away from a technical application." Vogel believes they have shown merely that the principle works.

She points out that although the construction of such a molecular nanoshuttle system may look easy, a great deal of creative effort and knowledge from different disciplines goes into every single component of the system. The creation of a functional unit from individual components remains a big challenge. "We have put a lot of thought into how to design the mechanical properties of bonds to bind the cargo to the shuttles and then unload it again in the right place."

The use of biological motors for technical applications is not easy. Molecular engines such as kinesin have to be removed from their biological context and integrated into an artificial entity without any loss of their functionality. The researchers also had to consider how to build the assembly carriers and what the ‘tracks' and assembly stations would look like. "These are all separate problems that we have now managed to combine into a functioning whole," says Vogel.
Sophisticated products from the nano assembly line

The researchers envision numerous applications, including the selective modification of organic molecules such as protein and DNA, the assembly of nanotechnological components or small organic polymers, or the chemical alteration of carbon nanotubes. "We need to continue to optimise the system and learn more about how we can design the individual components of this nanoshuttle system to make these applications possible in the future," says the ETH professor. The conditions for further research in this field are excellent: her group is now part of the new NCCR in Basel - Molecular Systems Engineering: Engineering functional molecular modules to factories.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Viola Vogel

41-446-320-887

Copyright © ETH Zurich

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Reference

Related News Press

News and information

Production of Zirconium Carbide Nanoparticles at Low Temperature without Thermal Operations July 5th, 2015

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

New Biosensor Produced in Iran to Detect Effective Drugs in Cancer Treatment July 4th, 2015

Pioneering Southampton scientist awarded prestigious physics medal July 3rd, 2015

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Lehigh University researchers unveil engineering innovations at TechConnect 2015: TechConnect is the world's largest accelerator for industry-vetted emerging-technologies ready for commercialization June 11th, 2015

How to cut a vortex into slices: A group of physicists, lead by Olga Vinogradova, professor at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, came up with a way to stir up a liquid in the microchannel June 3rd, 2015

What makes cancer cells spread? New device offers clues May 19th, 2015

Microchip captures clusters of circulating tumor cells -- NIH study May 18th, 2015

Molecular Nanotechnology

Groundbreaking research to help control liquids at micro and nano scales July 3rd, 2015

$8.5M Grant For Developing Nano Printing Technology: 4-D printing to advance chemistry, materials sciences and defense capabilities June 18th, 2015

Injectable electronics: New system holds promise for basic neuroscience, treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases June 8th, 2015

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

Nanomedicine

New Biosensor Produced in Iran to Detect Effective Drugs in Cancer Treatment July 4th, 2015

Groundbreaking research to help control liquids at micro and nano scales July 3rd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Find Simple, Economic Method to Synthesize Antibacterial Nanoparticles July 2nd, 2015

Leti Announces Launch of First European Nanomedicine Characterisation Laboratory: Project Combines Expertise of 9 Partners in 8 Countries to Foster Nanomedicine Innovation and Facilitate Regulatory Approval July 1st, 2015

Discoveries

Production of Zirconium Carbide Nanoparticles at Low Temperature without Thermal Operations July 5th, 2015

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

New Biosensor Produced in Iran to Detect Effective Drugs in Cancer Treatment July 4th, 2015

Clues to inner atomic life from subtle light-emission shifts: Hyperfine structure of light absorption by short-lived cadmium atom isotopes reveals characteristics of the nucleus that matter for high precision detection methods July 3rd, 2015

Announcements

Production of Zirconium Carbide Nanoparticles at Low Temperature without Thermal Operations July 5th, 2015

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

New Biosensor Produced in Iran to Detect Effective Drugs in Cancer Treatment July 4th, 2015

Pioneering Southampton scientist awarded prestigious physics medal July 3rd, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Production of Zirconium Carbide Nanoparticles at Low Temperature without Thermal Operations July 5th, 2015

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

New Biosensor Produced in Iran to Detect Effective Drugs in Cancer Treatment July 4th, 2015

Pioneering Southampton scientist awarded prestigious physics medal July 3rd, 2015

Industrial

Production of Zirconium Carbide Nanoparticles at Low Temperature without Thermal Operations July 5th, 2015

Iranian Scientists Find Simple, Economic Method to Synthesize Antibacterial Nanoparticles July 2nd, 2015

Green Chemistry Methods Used in Iran to Produce Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles June 27th, 2015

Stanford researchers stretch a thin crystal to get better solar cells June 25th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

Groundbreaking research to help control liquids at micro and nano scales July 3rd, 2015

Engineering the world’s smallest nanocrystal July 2nd, 2015

Nanometric sensor designed to detect herbicides can help diagnose multiple sclerosis June 23rd, 2015

Newly-Developed Biosensor in Iran Detects Cocaine Addiction June 23rd, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project