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Ming Zheng

Research Interests

My research area is at the interface of materials and biochemical sciences. We explore interactions between inorganic nanostructures and biomolecules. We exploit such interactions to create new hybrid structures and functions on one hand, and to discover new biomolecular folding patterns on the other.

Our earlier work has led to the finding of a family of molecular structures: DNA- single wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) hybrid (see figure below). SWCNTs are one-dimensional molecules that have the same cylindrical shape but different chiralities. Many fundamental studies and technological applications of SWCNT require a population of tubes with identical chirality that current syntheses can not provide. By constructing DNA-SWCNT hybrids with specific ssDNA sequences, we are able to chromatographically separate SWCNTs by their chiralities. SWCNT also provides a unique platform to study nucleic acid folding and other biophysical properties. Potential application of DNA/SWCNT interactions ranges from biosensing to DNA sequencing.


A figure showing the molecular structure of DNA-wrapped carbon nanotube


Our current research covers the following two related areas:

1. Structure and function characterization of DNA-SWCNT hybrid, mechanistic understanding of the DNA-based SWCNT sorting method and its further development.

2. Engineering DNA-SWCNT hybrid as a measurement tool for biological applications.   

In addition, we also provide purified materials to collaborators both outside and inside NIST to enable their fundamental measurements on SWCNTs.  


Awards and Honors

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow, 1997 – 2000
Chemical Research Council Collaborative Award, 2006
“Nano 50” Inventors Award, 2007


Research Opportunities

Those who are interested in our research are encouraged to apply for postdoctoral positions. For U.S. citizens, the National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship with an annual stipend of $65,600 per year (as of 2011) is available.


Selected Publications

Tu, X., Manohar, S., Jagota, A. & Zheng, M. DNA sequence motifs for structure-specific recognition and separation of carbon nanotubes. Nature 460, 250-253 (2009).

Tu, X. & Zheng, M. A DNA-based Approach to the Carbon Nanotube Sorting Problem. Nano Research 1, 185-194 (2008).

Zheng, M. & Semke, E. D. Enrichment of Single Chirality Carbon Nanotubes. J Am Chem Soc. 129, 6084-6085 (2007).

Mclean, R. S., Huang, X., Khripin, C., Jagota, A. & Zheng, M. Controlled two-dimensional pattern of spontaneously aligned carbon nanotubes. Nano Lett. 6, 55-60 (2006).

Huang, X., Mclean, R. S. & Zheng, M. High-resolution length sorting and purification of DNA-wrapped carbon nanotubes by size-exclusion chromatography. Anal. Chem. 77, 6225-6228 (2005).

Zheng, M. & Diner, B. A. Solution redox chemistry of carbon nanotubes. J Am Chem Soc. 126, 15490-15494 (2004).

Zheng, M. et al. DNA-assisted dispersion and separation of carbon nanotubes. Nat Mater. 2, 338-342 (2003).

Zheng, M. et al. Structure-based carbon nanotube sorting by sequence-dependent DNA assembly. Science 302, 1545-1548 (2003).  

News and Views on our research

1. Nature 460, 186-187

2.Nature Nanotechnology 4, 481 


Xiaomin (Helen) Tu (Guest Researcher)

Constantine Khripin (NRC Postdoctoral Fellow)

Nanotube Metrology Project

Complex Fluids group 

A photo of Ming Zheng.


Research Chemist
Materials Science and Engineering Division
Complex Fluids

Employment History:


National Institute of Standards and Technology (2009-present)

DuPont Central Research and Development (2000-2009)
Principal Investigator   

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1996-2000)
American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow (with Dr. Gisela Storz)



Peking University, BS (1984) and MS (1987) in Electronics

University of Utah, MS in Physics, 1990

Princeton University, Ph.D. in Chemistry (with Professor Charles Dismukes), 1995


Phone: 301-975-8995
Email: ming.zheng@nist.gov