Are nanoparticle assemblies able to mimic living creatures?
Assemblies of nanoparticles (NPs) are triumphs of nanoparticle science, because their properties can meet the requirements of many applications. By precisely tuning the composition, size, and shape of assemblies, numerous novel properties can be realized, such as optical, electronic, magnetic, optothermal, and mechanical properties. However, early studied usually regarded NP assemblies as inanimate and static, which had led to their dynamic properties being overlooked. Just as the natural world has evolved from inanimate matter to living organisms, so too will NP assemblies doubtlessly evolve into lifelike states. Further research has revealed that many NP assemblies also have animate properties. Wonderfully the dynamic properties endow NP assemblies, which mimic biological structures, biological activity with exquisite selectivity, specificity, and adaptability to the constantly changing environment.
Recently, Professor WANG Tie from Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences put forward a new insight that NP assemblies have biological properties, i.e., animate NP assemblies. Such assemblies will actively change their initial state to adapt to changes in their environment by deformation/motion, self-replication, perception, self-regulation, and self-repair, accompanied by the input and output of energy. Animate properties are a special aspect of NP assemblies and always appear simultaneous with the static physicochemical properties. Animate NP assemblies can change their speed, intensity, and mode of interaction with the environment in both space and time. The unique dynamic properties of higher-dimensional animate NP assemblies provide a broad range of potential applications, such as catalysis, bacterial capture, imaging modalities, nanomedicine, and actuators. This work provided not only a deep insight into how does the physical world dynamically interact with each other, but also a new opportunity to stimulate further research on animate NP assemblies.
Their work entitled “Effect of structure: A new insight into nanoparticle assemblies from inanimate to animate” has been published in Sci. Adv. 6, eaba1321 (2020). This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Schematic diagrams of nanoparticle assemblies having inanimate and animate properties. (Image by Prof. WANG Tie)
Prof. WANG Tie
Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences