Motor vehicles were created in the 19th century as an efficient mode of transportation. As useful as they’ve proven to be, cars do not manufacture themselves, nor is it inexpensive to build one. Scientists working at the Henderson lab at Iowa State University have successfully designed machines at the nanoscale that do just that — construct itself with regard to a difficult task at hand.
The scientists responsible for the development are Eric Henderson, a professor of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State University, and his former graduate student, Divita Mathur.
“These nanodevices have all these good qualities,” Mathur said. “[They] work a lot like normal-sized machines.”
The nanodevice is called OPTIMuS, and it works as a sensor to detect molecules at the nanoscale.
“In this case, these nanodevices can detect Ebola-mock DNA, which means that it can tell us if a sample has DNA sequences that are similar to the Ebola virus genome,” Mathur said.
Upon capturing a target molecule, OPTIMuS changes its shape. The shape change leads to a change in a fluorescent light signal received from the nanodevice. The fluorescence is then recorded by the lab. From there, the lab can analyze whether the target molecule is present or not.