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Liquid Crystal Films Controlled with Viruses

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2002
A virus is going around the laboratory of Angela Belcher, a chemist at the University of Texas in Austin who has discovered that the microscopic organisms can be manipulated to organize the optical particles in a liquid crystalline film.

The pencil-shaped viruses are genetically engineered to carry a protein on their tips that binds with molecules of zinc selenide. When in high concentration, the viruses organize themselves into structures reminiscent of stacks of lumber. This organization is not as easily manipulated as their electrically controlled, polymer counterparts; however, it does allow film structures large enough to be picked up with tweezers.

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