Inventive materials: self-assembled nanostructures

The ability of structures to self-assemble could change how we think about manufacturing

If nature can be persuaded to build structures, manufacturing becomes much easier. Fortunately, self-assembly is widespread in nature (think of crystal growth or blood clotting).

Many very clever routes are taking advantage of self-assembly. This includes use of chemical monomers that naturally polymerise, creating a polymer mesh with properties that be modified by tweaking the original monomer.

Lead image:

David Gregory and Debbie Marshall/Wellcome Images CC BY NC ND

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Nanoscience’ in June 2005 and reviewed and updated in August 2014.

Topic:
Biotechnology and engineering
Issue:
Nanoscience
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development