Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Promising Particles
25 October 2012

Promising Particles

Bioengineers are busy creating tiny particles that may one day change our lives. Some could help our bodies to fight diseases; or act as sensors of our internal beats and rhythms. New particles are being developed as quickly as new uses can be dreamed up. These microscope images show a new design: tube-shaped microparticles made from bendy polymers with an unusual trick up their sleeves. A blast of ultrasound triggers the blue-coloured polymer to contract from a tube (left) into a ball (right), pulling the red polymer into a curve. They’re actually behaving a little bit like arm muscles, yet each particle (magnified in the inset pictures) is roughly five hundred times smaller than a thumb nail. Shape-shifting particles may be used to release drugs into the bloodstream at the flick of a switch or for a number of applications no-one has thought of yet – perhaps you could?

Written by John Ankers

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