Chemistry

Tubular Templates

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Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1164-1165
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5905.1164d

The hydrophobic surfaces of dispersed carbon nanotubes can attract a diverse range of small molecules from a surrounding solution, which in turn interact with one another to form loose assemblies. Thauvin et al. capitalized on this templating behavior by preparing lipids with a photoactive diacetylene group inserted between the polar head and lipophilic tail. After arranging around a nanotube, these lipids could be irradiated in the ultraviolet to rigidify their connections to one another through polymerization (which selectively linked neighboring diacetylenes without inducing covalent attachment to the nanotube surface). Electrophoresis then liberated a batch of uniformly sized assemblies from the nanotube templates, which the authors characterized by transmission electron microscopy and light-scattering measurements. With a polar exterior and a hydrophobic interior hollowed out where the nanotube previously resided, these assemblies proved effective at solubilizing hydrophobic pigments, inhibiting fullerene aggregation, and stabilizing membrane proteins in an aqueous environment. Analysis of their detailed morphology remains underway. — JSY

Nat. Nanotechnol. 10.1038/nnano.2008.318 (2008).

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