Nanomaterials to Mimic Cells

Aug 23, 2005

Mimicking a real living cell by combining artificial membranes and nanomaterials in one construction is the aim of a new research grant at UC Davis. The Nanoscale Integrated Research Team grant, funded by the National Science Foundation with $1.6 million over four years, will study membranes mounted on aerogels, solid materials riddled with so many tiny pores that they are mostly empty.

All living cells are wrapped in a double-layered membrane of oily lipid molecules. Cell membranes are studded with proteins and other molecules, governing how food and wastes get in and out of a cell, how cells signal to and react to their environment, and how they divide and grow.

Currently, researchers studying artificial membranes mount them on solid substrates such as gold, glass or polymers, but that means that only one side of the membrane is accessible, said Subhash Risbud, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis and principal investigator on the project.

Using the porous aerogel as a support, the researchers should be able to access and study both sides of the membrane.

"The hope is to build artificial membrane systems that are as close to a biological membrane as we can get right now," said Marjorie Longo, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis.

The studies could lead to new insights into how real cell membranes behave, for example in the platelet cells that form blood clots.

Source: UC Davis

Explore further: New analytical technology reveals 'nanomechanical' surface traits

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

6 hours ago

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

Zambia lifts ban on safari hunting

7 hours ago

Zambia has lifted a 20-month ban on safari hunting because it has lost too much revenue, but lions and leopards will remain protected, the government said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Graphene reinvents the future

18 hours ago

For many scientists, the discovery of one-atom-thick sheets of graphene is hugely significant, something with the potential to affect just about every aspect of human activity and endeavour.

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle

Aug 26, 2014

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles ...

User comments : 0