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Self-Raising Flower
14 February 2016

Self-Raising Flower

Sometimes nature reveals familiar shapes in strange places. This delicate nanoflower (artificially coloured red) is 10,000 times smaller than a rose. It’s made from organic chemicals that self-assemble in a laboratory dish, blooming in repeating patterns over a couple of hours that mimic flowers in springtime. Aside from being a perfect Valentine’s gift, nanoflowers are exciting researchers due to strange properties that are still being investigated. For example, nanoflower 'petals' vibrate and spin under certain types of radiation, quickly heating up. A bunch of nanoflowers injected into a tumour could be targeted with a blast of radiation to locally overheat the cancer without affecting the rest of the body. This is very much biomedical science of the future, but this nanoflower is the first of its kind to bloom underwater, a first step to investigating their use sloshing about in the fluid environments of the human body.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.