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. We investigate empirical and computational ways to solve the sequence selection problem.
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 selecting out ordered DNA-SWCNT hybrids with specific ssDNA sequences, we are able to sort 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 programmable assembly of SWCNTs.
Current research topics
4. Programmable assembly of SWCNTs SWCNTs are a promising material for future 3D heterogeneous integration of electronics and optoelectronic. A prerequisite for this application is programmable assemble of SWCNTs with nm scale precision. We and our collaborators have demonstrated feasibility of such a bottom-up approach using the DNA brick method and DNA-SWCNT hybrids (see figure below and Science 368, 874, 2020; Science 368, 878, 2020). Future work to simplify the process and to employ AI-generated designer proteins are expected to dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of SWCNT assembly.
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 ~ $80,000 per year is available.
Links: Nanotube Metrology Project
Research Blog: "To see life in a drop of blood" ( https://www.nist.gov/blogs/taking-measure/see-life-drop-blood)
American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow, 1997 – 2000
Chemical Research Council Collaborative Award, 2006
"Nano 50" Inventors Award, 2007
Department of Commerce Silver Medal, 2013