Making nanotechnology practical is a challenge for modern research. Self-assembly is clearly going to be a necessary tool to realize practical and economic nanoscale structures. A biomimetic approach to the self-assembly of nanostructures will probably involve bilayer membrane vesicles as either the nanostructures themselves, or as templates or building blocks for more complex structures. Whether the vesicles are composed of surfactants, lipids or polymers, their stability in various environments must be optimized to suit the particular task at hand. Stabilizing the vesicles by polymerizing the surfactants themselves, or monomers templated within the vesicle or bilayer, has had a new surge of interest. Plating the vesicles, either by colloids or by polyelectrolytes, or templating the growth of various inorganic phases, has also shown promise, both in stabilizing the vesicle structure and in creating novel structures.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support by grants from the National Science Foundation (CTS-9814399) and the MSERC program of the NSF (DMR-96-32716), the University of California STAR Biotechnology Program (S97-10), and Alliance Pharmaceuticals. D. Weitz, E. Donath and D. Discher are acknowledged for sharing their vesicle pictures. Continuing thanks are due to my current and former students and post-docs who have worked on these projects: Dr Scott Walker, Dr Michael Kennedy, Dr Hee-Tae Jung, Mr Bret Coldren and Ms Cecile Boyer.
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