Crafting materials at the molecular level allowed researchers at the Technical University Munich (TUM) to ‘program’ materials to disintegrate at a preset time, the university announced on July 19. Taking inspiration from biological degradation, they created supramolecular structures by adding energy to freely-mobile molecular building blocks. When the energy runs out, the structures collapse. The amount of time the material lasts can be preset by specifying the amount of “fuel” molecules in the laboratory, or by adding more high-energy molecules later.
“A typical example of an energy source is adenosine triphosphate, ATP for short,” said Job Boekhoven, professor of supramolecular chemistry. “As long as enough energy is available, damaged components and entire cells can be broken down and replaced by new ones, otherwise the organism dies and disintegrates into its basic building blocks.”
This work was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Filed Under: Materials • advanced