Biomimetic nanoscale reactors and networks
Journal article, 2004
Methods based on self-assembly, self-organization, and forced shape transformations to form synthetic or semisynthetic enclosed lipid bilayer structures with several properties similar to biological nanocompartments are reviewed. The procedures offer unconventional micro- and nanofabrication routes to yield complex soft-matter devices for a variety of applications for example, in physical chemistry and nanotechnology. In particular, we describe novel micromanipulation methods for producing fluid-state lipid bilayer networks of nanotubes and surface-immobilized vesicles with controlled geometry, topology, membrane composition, and interior contents. Mass transport in nanotubes and materials exchange, for example, between conjugated containers, can be controlled by creating a surface tension gradient that gives rise to a moving boundary or by induced shape transformations. The network devices can operate with extremely small volume elements and low mass, to the limit of single molecules and particles at a length scale where a continuum mechanics approximation may break down. Thus, we also describe some concepts of anomalous fluctuation-dominated kinetics and anomalous diffusive behaviours, including hindered transport, as they might become important in studying chemistry and transport phenomena in these confined systems. The networks are suitable for initiating and controlling chemical reactions in confined biomimetic compartments for rationalizing, for example, enzyme behaviors, as well as for applications in nanofluidics, bioanalytical devices, and to construct computational and complex sensor systems with operations building on chemical kinetics, coupled reactions and controlled mass transport.