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Gizmorama - September 5, 2018

Good Morning,

It seems like printing and ink go together like peas and carrots. Well, what about printing with sound? Scientist have made printing with sound a thing.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- 'Molecular hopper' can transport, manipulate single strands of DNA --*

Scientists have designed a molecular machine -- a "molecular hopper" -- capable of moving single strands of DNA.

The hopper moves along a nanoscale track. Its locomotion is made possible by the making and breaking of simple chemical bonds. In lab tests, the hopper successfully carried single strands of DNA through a protein nanotube.

The breakthrough could inspire the next generation of gene editing technologies.

"Being able to control molecular motion is the holy grail of building nanoscale machines," Hagan Bayley, a professor of chemistry at Oxford University, said in a news release. "Being able to process single molecules of DNA under precise chemical control may provide an alternative to the use of enzymes in DNA sequencing technologies, improving their speed and the number of molecules that can be analyzed in parallel."

The miniature hopper moves along a track made of cysteine residues. Cysteine is a type of amino acid. Scientists threaded the track through a membrane-lined nanotube. The membrane carried an electric field. The current controls the making and breaking of chemical bonds, triggering the movement of the molecular hopper.

"The hopper demonstrated characteristics desired in a moving molecule: defined start and end points, processivity, no chemical fuel requirement, directional motion, and external control," researchers wrote in the journal Science.

The hopper was designed specifically to carry cargo.

"Cargos were attached to a carrier motor, and their position and chemical identity read out from changes in the current through the pore," scientists explained in their newly published paper. "These features enabled repeat observations of a single molecule as it moved back and forth on the track."

The molecular hopper's movement is described as "ratcheting." The process could prove useful to future molecular machine technologies, especially technologies used for DNA and RNA sequencing.

*-- New printer uses sound waves to shape ink droplets --*

Scientists have found a way to print with sound. The new technology will help printers exert more precise control over the shape and viscosity of ink droplets.

The acoustic printer won't be printing term papers or greeting cards. Instead, the technology could be used to synthesize biopharmaceuticals and cosmetics, as well as optical and conductive materials.

"By harnessing acoustic forces, we have created a new technology that enables myriad materials to be printed in a drop-on-demand manner," Jennifer Lewis, a profess or bioengineering at Harvard University, said in a news release.

Scientists have previously used sound waves to levitate particles and look for contaminants. Researchers have also bounced sound waves through a maze and reflected sound waves back toward their original source with unprecedented efficiency.

Now, scientists have used sound to advance printing technology.

Currently, microcapsules used for drug delivery are made using inkjet printers. The technology can only handle liquids ten times more viscous than water. The new printer can shape and deposit microcapsules made from much more viscous liquids, including biopolymer and cell-laden solutions.

"Our goal was to take viscosity out of the picture by developing a printing system that is independent from the material properties of the fluid," said Daniele Foresti, a material scientist at Harvard's Wyss Institute.

As mentioned, sound waves have previously been used to levitate liquid droplets. The latest technology deploys acoustic waves to enhance, rather than assist, gravity.

"The idea is to generate an acoustic field that literally detaches tiny droplets from the nozzle, much like picking apples from a tree," said Foresti.

The normal low and slow droplet formation process causes microcapsules to be too big and clunky. By pushing droplets out more efficiently, scientists can produce smaller, more delicately designed deposits.

In the lab, scientists successfully printed microcapsules using a variety of liquid solutions, including honey, stem cell inks, optical resins and liquid metals.

Researchers detailed their new technology this week in the journal Science Advances.

"Our technology should have an immediate impact on the pharmaceutical industry," said Lewis. "However, we believe that this will become an important platform for multiple industries."


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