We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Nanofibers Perform Attoscale Chemistry

The chemical reactors allow experiments to be performed using just thousands of molecules.

Slideshow: This illustration shows how the polymer nanofibers perform a reaction. The fibers are 200 nanometers in diameter and do not normally react with one another. However, when the fibers are exposed to a flash of heat (shown bottom), the polymers melt together, causing the formation of an “attoreactor,” where the two reactants meet each other.
Slideshow: These microscope images show the same reaction chamber at different levels of magnification. The central image, taken with a fluorescence microscope, shows that about 1,000 molecules are reacting, causing the release of fluorescent light in a starlike point. The images to the left and right were taken with a light microscope.
Slideshow: A random mat of nanofibers glows brightly at junctures where a dye molecule reacts with its target. The image was created by combining a fluorescence image with a white-light image.
Slideshow: A high-density, rectangular network of nanofibers is shown in the image above. The attoreactors are visible in fluorescent blue.
Slideshow: Pavel Anzenbacher, a chemist at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, says that he was inspired to develop the attoreactor by one of his favorite painters, Piet Mondrian. Mondrian is famous for gridlike paintings such as this one, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, from 1921, which hangs in London’s Tate Gallery.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.