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
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) 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.