Programmable Nanoscale Assembly
One of the fundamental problems in bottom-up assembly of nanomaterials is difficulty creating arbitrary designed architectures from functionally relevant nanoscale blocks. This problem limits how we build targeted materials, integrate nanoscale blocks and manufacture nanoscale devices.
Our efforts address this challenge by establishing methods for digital bottom-up assembly using programmable processes. We use nucleic acids as nanomaterials that can be addressed and prescribed in order to build complex multiscale organizations from inorganic and bio-organic nano-components. We employ programmable molecular interfacing, soft matter effects and inverse design principles for controlling desired equilibrium and out-equilibrium systems' states. The effort aims to establish practical and broadly applicable by-design material fabrication platforms based on digitizing self-organization processes.
Engineered Nanoscale Biomaterials
Novel approaches are required for generating new biologically and chemically active biomaterials. For example, it is advantageous to establish methods for organizing proteins into designed 2D and 3D arrays, which remains a challenge for traditional protein crystallization. The capability to design controllable protein supramolecular structures can allow accumulation of a wealth of information (e.g., structure, genetics, function) onto a single structure, leading to a broad spectrum of application in nanotechnology, biomimetics and nanomedicine.
We are developing methods for building complex nanoscale blocks that integrate DNA, proteins and enzymes for engineering functions, and exploring them in applications for bio-imaging, drug and gene delivery. We use these designed building bio-nano blocks for creating large-scale biomaterial systems with catalytic, sensing, and system regulation functions.
Self-Assembled Optical Nanomaterials
Architectured nanoparticle systems with light emitting and light absorbing nanoscale components, such as plasmonic nanoparticles and quantum dots, offer novel optical properties due to the collective effects. However, in order to realize tunable optical responses from such hetero-nanoparticle systems, well-defined nano-architectures with targeted nanoparticle arrangements have to be fabricated.
We investigate how to translate our programmable assembly methods for creating static and dynamic optical architectures with prescribed positions of optically active nano-components. We exploit such structures for creating novel materials that can manipulate light in the desired ways, process information, sense signals, and reconfigure as directed.