A team of polymer science and engineering researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has demonstrated for the first time that the positions of tiny, flat, solid objects integrated in nanometrically thin membranes – resembling those of biological cells – can be controlled by mechanically varying the elastic forces in the membrane itself. This research milestone is a significant step toward the goal of creating ultrathin flexible materials that self-organize and respond immediately to mechanical force.
The team has discovered that rigid solid plates in biomimetic fluid membranes experience interactions that are qualitatively different from those of biological components in cell membranes. In cell membranes, fluid domains or adherent viruses experience either attractions or repulsions, but not both, says Weiyue Xin, lead author of the paper detailing the research, which recently appeared in Science Advances. But in order to precisely position solid objects in a membrane, both attractive and repulsive forces must be available, adds Maria Santore, a professor of polymer science and engineering at UMass.
Read full article at the UMass News Office