Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Self-Raising Flower
14 February 2016

Self-Raising Flower

Sometimes nature reveals familiar shapes in strange places. This delicate nanoflower (artificially coloured red) is 10,000 times smaller than a rose. It’s made from organic chemicals that self-assemble in a laboratory dish, blooming in repeating patterns over a couple of hours that mimic flowers in springtime. Aside from being a perfect Valentine’s gift, nanoflowers are exciting researchers due to strange properties that are still being investigated. For example, nanoflower 'petals' vibrate and spin under certain types of radiation, quickly heating up. A bunch of nanoflowers injected into a tumour could be targeted with a blast of radiation to locally overheat the cancer without affecting the rest of the body. This is very much biomedical science of the future, but this nanoflower is the first of its kind to bloom underwater, a first step to investigating their use sloshing about in the fluid environments of the human body.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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