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.

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