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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Ana Villares laureate of "Rising stars in Pays de la Loire" for the NANOMACH project

Ana Villares
Ana Villares, a young researcher from the Unit, has been awarded the "Rising Stars in the Pays de la Loire" to support her research on the design of new high-performance and sustainable biobased materials in the framework of the Nanomach project.

The "Rising Stars in the Pays de la Loire" is a regional award set up by the Pays de la Loire Region, which supports the most promising young researchers in the Pays de la Loire laboratories by sponsoring them to develop their research projects so that they can achieve recognition at European or international level. Ana Villares of the Nanostructured Assemblies team, the awarded of 2018, is therefore receiving support for the Nanomach project, whose objective is to fabricate new molecular biosourced machines powered by renewable resources.

The Nanomach project aims to design molecular machines whose "arms" will be cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). Molecular machines are systems that convert energy into linear or rotational motion at the molecular scale. The major bottleneck in the design of molecular machines is the transfer of energy from the molecular level to the macroscopic scale. Nanomach's challenge is therefore to manufacture systems containing grafted CNCs with chemical functionalities that can perform molecular work, and that this energy is transferred from the angstrom (molecular engine, 0.2 nm) to the nanoscale (cellulose nanocrystal, 200-500 nm).


In this project, the "motor" energy of different functionalities, such as temperature-responsive polymers, pH-sensitive dendrimers and photosensitive molecules, will be used to move CNCs. We will study the grafting of the "motor" functionality onto the reducing end of the CNCs, their structural characterization, and the evaluation of the movement of the "arms" (cellulose nanocrystals). Molecular work will be used to change the properties of CNCassemblies, such as mechanical properties or porosity by controlling their arrangement. The project will thus develop a new generation of nanodevices for the fabrication of bio-inspired artificial muscles, nanotweezers, nanomembranes and nanovalves.

The use of CNCs as arms that move by the action of a molecular motor powered by sustainable sources is a pioneering proposal in the field of molecular machines. This project will provide knowledge to design and create molecular machines as required for specific applications. CNCs are suitable candidates for the fabrication of nanomachines due to their excellent mechanical properties, thermal stability and optical characteristics. The introduction of "motor" functions on the CNC surface will open new horizons as new nanomachines, for example, in the biomedical field due to the non-toxicity and biocompatibility of cellulose.

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