Nanoflowers

They sure look beautiful, but they're not just any flower ... they're nanoflowers!

Nanoflowers may not impress your date, but researchers say these floral-shaped molecules—so tiny you'd need an electron microscope to see them—may have other uses. The objects (shown above) consist of a protein encased in copper phosphate "petals." As well as looking pretty, these petals perform two important functions. First, they stabilize the protein to prevent it from breaking down. Secondly, if the protein has catalytic properties—that is, if it speeds up other chemical reactions—encasing it in a nanoflower makes it a more effective catalyst. Nanoflower catalysts therefore work better and last longer than the bare proteins.

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