A team of researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Sydney have developed two faced nanotubes and named it after Janus, the Roman god with two faces. These nanotubes are made out of proteins using molecular engineering techniques and they are very versatile in nature with potential for a wide range of applications.
The structure of these Janus nanotubes is based on stacking of cyclic peptides, creating tubes with channels as big as 1 nm. These channels can easily allow small molecules and ions to pass through them. The cyclic peptides have two different types of polymers that de-mix to form a shell for the tube with two faces. These faces can be used as molecular sieves in solid state to separate liquids and gases, one molecule at a time for applications like water purification, desalination, gas storage etc. When in solution, they can assemble in the lipid bilayers of cell membranes to form pores that allow molecules of a specific size to pass through them, making it ideal for developing new drug delivery systems. These Janus nanotubes can also be used to replace natural ion channels in biological processes so as to exert more control over them and in turn treat diseases associated with these ion channels. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Source: University of Warwick