Friday, 29 July 2011

Artificial micro-hairs start sweeping on their own

Researchers at Brandeis mixed three kinds of ingredient -  microtubules,  proteins that burn fuel to travel inside tubules, and a tube-bundling agent.   Tiny thread-like hairs (cilia) self assembled from 600 proteins.  They began to sweep back and forth and coordinated the beat with their neighbors to produce a wave motion.
Cilia are the sweepers that continually flush junk from your lungs and brush them uphill until they emerge as snot.  There are also some free-living cells that travel around using a fringe of cilia for oars.  A cilium is about 1/100th of a millimeter long.
Artificial cilia exhibit spontaneous beating.
(Credit: Image courtesy of Brandeis University)

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