If you want to build a molecular-scale computer chip, or a minuscule sensor that detects the slightest whiff of an airborne toxin, you're going to need some tiny builders to help put these gadgets together. In Friday's issue of the journal Science, researchers in Texas show how they hired a virus as their nano-construction worker.
... Millions of viruses in solution can line up and stack themselves into layers, creating a material that flows like a liquid but maintains an internal pattern. By changing the solution's concentration or applying a magnetic field, scientists can force new patterns and create different liquid crystal structures.
Viruses could do all the tedious and fine work of creating a highly organized nanomaterial. ...
The team will spend the next year trying to make simple devices out of this material, with the hope that these materials can be used in self-assembling computer chips, optical devices and sensors that detect biowarfare agents or chemicals.
You can find the Science paper online at
Viruses enlisted as nano-builders