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Developing Nanoscale Materials Using Biomimetic Assembly Processes

  • George D. Bachand (a1), Susan B. Rivera (a1), Andrew K. Boal (a1), Joseph M. Bauer (a1), Steven J. Koch (a1), Ronald P. Manginell (a2), Jun Liu (a3) and Bruce C. Bunker (a1)...


The formation and nature of living materials are fundamentally different from those of synthetic materials. Synthetic materials generally have static structures, and are not capable of adapting to changing environmental conditions or stimuli. In contrast, living systems utilize energy to assemble, reconfigure, and dismantle materials in a dynamic, highly non-equilibrium fashion. The overall goal of this work is to identify and explore key strategies used by living systems to develop new types of materials in which the assembly, configuration, and disassembly can be programmed or “self-regulated” in microfluidic environments. As a model system, kinesin motor proteins and microtubule fibers have been selected as a means of directing the transport of molecular cargo, and assembly of nanostructures at synthetic interfaces. Initial work has focused on characterizing and engineering the properties of these active biomolecules for robust performance in microfluidic systems. We also have developed several strategies for functionalizing microtubule fibers with metal and semiconductor nanoparticles, and demonstrated the assembly of composite nanoscale materials. Moreover, transport of these composite assemblies has been demonstrated using energy-driven actuation by kinesin motor proteins. Current work is focused on developing mechanisms for directing the linear transport of microtubule fibers, and controlling the loading/unloading of nanoparticle cargo in microfluidic systems.



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