One of the most compelling areas to be touched by nanotechnology is biological science. Indeed, we will argue that there is a fascinating interplay between these two subjects, with biology as a key beneficiary of advances in nanotechnology as a result of a new generation of single molecule experiments that complement traditional assays involving statistical assemblages of molecules. This interplay runs in both directions, with nanotechnology continually receiving inspiration from biology itself. The goal of this chapter is to highlight some representative examples of the exchange between biology and nanotechnology and to illustrate the role of nanomechanics in this field and how mechanical models have arisen in response to the emergence of this new field. Primary attention will be given to the particular example of the processes that attend the life cycle of bacterial viruses. Viruses feature many of the key lessons of biological nanotechnology, including self assembly, as evidenced in the spontaneous formation of the protein shell (capsid) within which the viral genome is packaged, and a motor-mediated biological process, namely, the packaging of DNA in this capsid by a molecular motor that pushes the DNA into the capsid. We argue that these processes in viruses are a compelling real-world example of nature’s nanotechnology and reveal the nanomechanical challenges that will continue to be confronted at the nanotechnology-biology interface.
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- Mechanics of Biological Nanotechnology
Prashant K. Purohit
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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