Friday, February 1, 2013
Scientists create almost living crystal
NYU biophysicist Jérémie Palacci and fellow physicist Paul Chaikin have created something interesting to say the least. Together they led a team of researchers in developing particles that can best be described as living crystals.
"Each particle is made from a microscopic cube of hematite, a compound consisting of iron and oxygen, sheathed in a spherical polymer coat. One corner is left exposed.
Under certain wavelengths of blue light, hematite conducts electricity. When the particles are placed in a hydrogen peroxide bath under blue light, chemical reactions catalyze around the exposed tips.
'There is a blurry frontier between active and alive.'As the hydrogen peroxide breaks down, concentration gradients form. The particles travel down these, aggregating into crystals that also follow the gradients.
Random forces pull the crystals apart, but eventually they merge again. The process repeats again and again, stopping only when the lights go out.
The ultimate goal of the work is to study how complicated collective behaviors arise from simple individual properties, perhaps informing molecular self-assembly projects, but it’s hard not to think about the origin-of-life implications."
very cool but kind of eerie
at 3:25 PM