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Structural materials in cells

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Where does the structure of our body come from? This free course, Structural materials in cells, looks at the structure of cells and how proteins are used by both animals and plants to create a framework for cellular growth. You will also learn how a material as fine as spider silk can exceed the strength of steel.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • describe and give examples of how self-assembly enables construction ‘from the bottom up’ in natural materials
  • explain what is meant by primary and higher-order structure in proteins and give examples
  • give examples of the range of functions carried out by proteins within cells
  • describe how a combination of strong and weak bonding within biopolymers and lipids is used to build hierarchical structures with common structural elements and finely tuned properties, including calculations where appropriate
  • explain how both positive and negative design principles must be applied to the design of molecular devices and comment on the challenges involved in attempting such design.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 20 hours
  • Updated Thursday 17th March 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Technology
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Structural materials in cells


Unit image

This unit examines how self-assembled structures based on lipids and proteins provide a framework for cellular processes.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course T356 Engineering small worlds: micro and nano technologies [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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