ORNL researchers develop new method to look deep at biomaterials’ nanostructure

February 26, 2020 |

In Tennessee, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.

The research team used the sharp probe tip of an atomic force microscope, or AFM, to precisely punch tiny holes into a soft surface, such as a biological membrane, creating a detached layer that can be gently peeled away.

Using the new, nonintrusive soft mechanical nanoablation, or sMNA, technique, the team accessed starch granules without altering the nanostructure. Existing observation methods require damaging or destroying the starch’s outer layers, which can affect the physical properties of the granules.

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Category: Research

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