Design of Biologically-Inspired Nanostructured Materials
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Seminar
Featuring Szu-Wen Wang
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Free and open to the public
The precision of natural protein nanostructures is remarkable, and they can be used as scaffolds upon which to build new functionalities. By defining architecture at both the molecular and nanoscale levels through genetic engineering, one can tailor unique material properties. We are examining the fabrication of protein assemblies as novel biomaterials, and one of our investigations focuses on the transport of therapeutic molecules with a caged protein scaffold. Through in vivo synthesis and self-assembly, we have successfully developed a system that enables us to modify physicochemical characteristics both on the interior and exterior of a hollow nanocapsule.
Our studies have revealed that this 25-nm complex is unusually stable and amenable to modifications. This flexibility now gives us the ability to integrate multiple functionalities into the particle, including drug encapsulation, cellular targeting, and growth of quantum dots. We are also exploring the use of protein arrays to template inorganic nanoparticles into well-ordered structures. Our investigations demonstrate the ability to grow two-dimensional protein crystals onto solid surfaces and to modify their molecular arrangement by changing growth conditions. Current studies focus on altering the spatial configuration of inorganic nanoparticles using these proteins templates, with the view of building three-dimensional assemblies of hybrid materials.