A keen sensitivity to their environment allows venus flytraps to ensnare their insect meals. Gently graze their trigger hairs, and the carnivorous plants will clamp together their jawlike leaves. Such responsive behavior, which is intrinsic to natural systems, is becoming a key requirement for advanced artificial materials and devices, presenting a substantial scientific and engineering challenge. Materials scientists have now managed to replicate this acute environmental sensitivity on the nanometer scale.
Nanotechnologies can open up promising areas in diagnosis and treatment but measures are needed to ensure that related medical products and devices are safe, scientific experts told the European Commission.