Self-Organization of Helical Assemblies

Organisms in nature can assemble themselves into highly functioning structures.  Understanding the unique architectural principles that prompt this self-organization offers important clues into economical ways of solving complex material and design challenges.

The polymer nanobristles in this image were covered in liquid. As the liquid evaporated, the process was controlled so that polymer bristles formed highly ordered helical clusters in which the bristle hairs wound around each other like embracing arms or gently entwined fingers.

Polymer nanobristles assembling into highly ordered helical clusters. This image was taken with a scanning electron microscope and colored to enhance detail. 
Image credit:  Joanna Aizenberg.

Gray arrow   "Scientists Explore Nature's Designs," Harvard Gazette
Gray arrow   Images from Aizenberg Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab