New synthetic self-assembling macromolecules mimic nature

Mar 19, 2007

We take "self-assembly" for granted when it is carried out by the biopolymers which are our hair, teeth, or skin. But when scientists devise new ways for molecules to self assemble into new materials, it is an important achievement.

Researchers with the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute at Virginia Tech report such a development in the online issue for the Journal of the American Chemical Society, in the article, "Aggregation of Rod-Coil Block Copolymers Containing Rigid Polyampholyte Blocks in Aqueous Solution" (10.1021/ja070422+) and at the 233rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Chicago, March 25-29.

S. Richard Turner, MII director and research professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, and Min Mao, a Ph.D. candidate in polymer chemistry, report the synthesis of a new family of charged, rod-like block copolymers. Only as long as a fraction of the diameter of human hair, the tiny rods can be either positive or negative, or can have alternating positive and negative charges along the backbone. The rods self-assemble and the aggregated structures are remarkable stable in saline solution, Turner said.

"The early results of this study suggest that these charged polymers self-assemble by like-charge interactions similar to such natural polymers as DNA," said Turner. "The stable self-assembled structures could have potential applications in drug delivery and gene delivery systems."

But more immediate, "These unique block copolymers can be instructive models in understanding the forces that lead to the dense packing of DNA when complexed with viruses and other polymers," he said.

Source: Virginia Tech

Explore further: Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heterogeneous nanoblocks give polymers an edge

Aug 05, 2013

Building structures by mixing lego bricks of two different sizes is child's play. However, studying polymers endowed with an alternating nanostructure made of heterogeneous blocks is anything but straightforward.

Versatile polymer film synthesis method invented

Aug 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —Forming perfect porous polymer films is not enough; they need both large and small pores, and the process of making them needs to be simple, versatile and repeatable. Creatively combining already ...

Coming round to stable self-assembly

May 28, 2013

Nanostructures that assemble themselves from polymer molecules could prove to be useful tools in chemistry and industry. However, it is difficult to develop structurally robust self-assembling materials because ...

Recommended for you

Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

Nov 21, 2014

Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.