Skip to main content

Soft Matter Nanotechnology to Create Life-Like Machines

Final Report Summary - SFN (Soft Matter Nanotechnology to Create Life-Like Machines)

We developed an entirely new research platform based on the “supported lipid double bilayer”, which for the first time combines features of supported bilayers and giant vesicles. Fabrication is entirely KT-driven (thermal energy-no external power source needed), either by self-spreading, or by thermophoresis. Our technology is a significant improvement over previously achieved nanotube-vesicle networks, since biomimetic networks can now be generated in an automated and highly reproducible manner. The central issue of remote-controling of nanoscale soft-matter devices was addressed by means of microfluidics integration and laser technology. We achieved precise control over reactor shape, network geometry, connectivity, size, molecular composition and chemical reactivity. We also achieved for the first time the artificial construction of a nanotube-interconnected network of living cells, were artificially initiated nanotube-mediated transport was successfully demonstrated. We also focused on surface properties of the support substrates, and developed a variety of new surface technologies, using materials particularly suitable for single molecule studies in supported biomembranes. On the integration side, a new generation of microfluidic devices, which creates a virtual flow chamber in an open volume, was developed. It allows high quality, medium-throughput chemical manipulation on the single cell level, and formed the foundation for new future technologies using bioinspired soft matter. These devices have become the core of a fully commercialized instrument platform, which is marketed by a new spin-off company, which was formed by group members in 2012. In summary, the project has successfully generated new technological solutions, addressing several central questions in biochemistry, biophysics and cell biology, for example the experimental determination of reaction dynamics of single DNA strands on membranes, proof of principle of supramolecular thermomigration, and the “lab on a biomembrane”.