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While it is relatively straightforward to build a box on the macroscale, it is much more challenging at smaller micro and nanometer length scales. At those sizes, 3D structures are too small to be assembled by any machine and they must be guided to assemble on their own. And now, interdisciplinary research by engineers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and mathematicians at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island has led to a breakthrough showing that higher order polyhedra can indeed fold up and assemble themselves. With support from the National Science Foundation, Brown University mathematician Govind Menon and Johns Hopkins University chemical and biomolecular engineer David Gracias are developing self-assembling 3-D micro and nanostructures which can be used in a number of applications, including medicine.
(Courtesy of the National Science Foundation and Science Nation)