Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Twist of Twisted Helix

Twisting og Helix, Hemihelix with Single and Multiple Perversion 

Helix is a well known structure in biology. There are different types of helices structures exisits in the universe. The nature always choose for stable structure. Helix is the basic structure of DNA. But helix formation can get complicated, as helix grows. The rotation of helices may get reversed and the resulting structure has een dubbed hemihelix. And we can create it very simply by untwisting a part of our telephone cord.

Katia Bertoldi, a professor of applied mechanics at Harvard University, and her colleagues wanted to see how hemihelices form on their own. So they stretched a strip of silicone rubber, glued it to a second, unstretched strip and let the pair go. The researchers reported April 23 in PLOS ONE that they could get a range of shapes to form by tuning the dimensions of the glued rubber pieces.

Strips that were much thicker than they were wide spiralled gently to form helices. Those with squarer cross sections relaxed themselves with a strong twist, forming hemihelices with one or many regularly spaced changes in direction.
“It’s sort of a competition between bending and twisting,” Bertoldi says. She and her colleagues are now experimenting with rectangular patches of rubber to see how this same stretch-and-release approach can be applied to make other three-dimensional shapes.


To create helical structures, one silicone strip (red) is stretched to match the length of a longer strip (blue). The pair is glued together and then released. Depending on the dimensions of the strands, a helix or hemihelix (one shown right) forms as the pair relaxes.

Shape matters

The number of changes in direction, or “perversions,” in a hemihelix depends on the cross section of the bonded strips (shown actual size below). Keeping width constant (blue = 3 mm, red = 1.89 mm), researchers decreased the thickness of the strips (shown as height) for more perversions.


About the Author

Prejeesh Sreedharan

Author & Editor

I am a Biotechnologist very much interested in #SciTech (Science And Technology). I closely follow the developments in medical science and life science. I am also very enthusiast in the world of electronics, information technology and robotics. I always looks for ways to make complicated things simpler. And I always believes simplest thing is the most complicated ones.

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