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Colloidal Particles can Benefit Biomedicine and Biotechnology

Colloidal particles have turned out to be increasingly significant for research as vehicles of biochemical agents.

Model of the colloidal rods of different lengths, which move like chess pieces on a magnetized chip. Image Credit: Adrian Ernst.

Scientists place these colloidal particles on a magnetized chip to analyze their behavior much more efficiently than ever before.

A team of researchers from the University of Bayreuth has reported these latest findings in the Nature Communications journal. They found that colloidal rods can be placed on a chip precisely, rapidly, and in different directions. A pre-programmed magnetic field can also allow these regulated movements to take place at the same time.

For the newly published study, the researchers, headed by Dr Thomas Fischer, a Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Bayreuth, worked closely with associates from the University of Poznań and the University of Kassel.

To begin with, individual spherical colloidal particles make up the building blocks for rods of varying lengths. These colloidal particles were arranged in such a way that the rods can easily travel in different directions on a magnetized chip similar to upright chess figures—as if by magic, but actually determined by the properties of the magnetic field.

In the next step, the team was able to elicit the individual movements of the rods in various directions at the same time. In this case, the critical factor was the “programming” of the magnetic field using a mathematical code. In encrypted form, this mathematical code outlines all the movements to be carried out by the figures.

When such movements are performed concurrently, they take up to one-tenth of the time required if they are performed one after the other, similar to the moves on a chessboard.

The simultaneity of differently directed movements makes research into colloidal particles and their dynamics much more efficient.

Adrian Ernst, Study Co-Author and Doctoral Student, University of Bayreuth

Miniaturised laboratories on small chips measuring just a few centimetres in size are being used more and more in basic physics research to gain insights into the properties and dynamics of materials. Our new research results reinforce this trend,” stated Mahla Mirzaee-Kakhki, the study’s first author and doctoral student from the University of Bayreuth.

Because colloidal particles are in many cases very well suited as vehicles for active substances, our research results could be of particular benefit to biomedicine and biotechnology.

Mahla Mirzaee-Kakhki, Study First Author and Doctoral Student, University of Bayreuth

Journal Reference:

Mirzaee-Kakhki, M., et al. (2020) Simultaneous polydirectional transport of colloidal bipeds. Nature Communications.


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