Using self-assembling nanosphere clusters, researchers have created chemical reactions 100 times faster than in a solution and opened the door for advanced drug delivery.
When a single layer of nano-particles is coated onto a surface, they self-assemble into a crystalline structure known as a cluster. Within this cluster are spaces between the particles, which researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have found can store other molecules.
Known as “nanoflasks” these structures are highly sensitive to light, assembling under UV light and dissembling under normal light. A feature that would be very useful in drug delivery, where a patient could take a drug that could be then activated at a later time.
It was also found that if reactive chemicals were stored, the reaction occurred 100 times faster than normal. In the case of manufacturing plastics, which use polymerisation reactions, this would drastically reduce production times.
Researchers hope that this discovery will lead to more targeted and controllable drug delivery as well as speeding up many production processes in industries reliant on chemical reactions.