Producing a personal care ingredient on a nanoscale presents a major difficulty – how to see and assess it during the development process.
But a team led by the UK-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), says it has made a significant step towards overcoming this problem.
New research published in the August edition of ChemBioChem shows that the teams of scientists from three UK universities have developed a technique to examine tiny protein peptide molecules on the surface of a gold nanoparticle.
First time for a detaled picture
The team claims that this is the first time that scientists have been able to build a detailed picture of a self-assembled peptide on a nanoparticle, which evidently promises new ways to develop and manufacture materials on this scale.
Nanoparticles exist everywhere naturally, and the BBSRC team says it has been able to borrow from nature’s processes by developing a way of constructing complex nanoscale building blocks through the self assembly of peptides on the surface of metal materials.
The model is chemistry-based, backed up by computer modeling, and allows the team to measure the distance between peptides on the surface of the gold particle.
The scientists say that the model exploits the ability to distinguish between two other types of connections – or cross links – one joining different parts of the same molecule, the other that joins two separate molecules.
Throws light on nanoparticle measurement
This is the first time that scientists have been able to explore this specific area of nanotechnology, throwing light on how distances can be measured on a nanoparticle and allowing this process to be computer simulated.
Team leader Dr Rapael Lévy said: "As nanotechnology scientists we face a challenge similar to the one faced by structural biologists half a century ago: determining the structure with atomic scale precision of a whole range of nanoscale materials.
"By using a combination of chemistry and computer simulation we have been able to demonstrate a method by which we can start to see what is going on at the nanoscale.
"If we can understand how peptides self-assemble at the surface of a nanoparticle, we can open up a route towards the design and synthesis of nanoparticles that have complex surfaces."