Most multicellular organisms can only survive under atmospheric pressure. The reduced pressure of a high vacuum usually leads to rapid dehydration and death. Here we show that a simple surface modification can render multicellular organisms strongly tolerant to high vacuum. Animals that collapsed under high vacuum continued to move following exposure of their natural extracellular surface layer (or that of an artificial coat-like polysorbitan monolaurate) to an electron beam or plasma ionization (i.e., conditions known to enhance polymer formation). Transmission electron microscopic observations revealed the existence of a thin polymerized extra layer on the surface of the animal. The layer acts as a flexible "nano-suit" barrier to the passage of gases and liquids and thus protects the organism. Furthermore, the biocompatible molecule, the component of the nano-suit, was fabricated into a "biomimetic" free-standing membrane. This concept will allow biology-related fields especially to use these membranes for several applications.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2013 May 7|
- Animal behavior
- Plasma physics
ASJC Scopus subject areas