Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

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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