ChEMS Seminar: From Biomimetics to High-performing Functional Nanostructures

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Yu Huang

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract: Material formation in nature is precisely controlled in all aspects, from crystal nucleation and growth to assembly, to deliver superior functions. Specific biomolecule-material interactions have been hypothesized to play important roles in these processes. Proteins, polymers and small molecules have been extensively explored to replicate the degree of control in material formation in vitro and for nonbiogenic materials. However the organic-inorganic interfacial interaction is still far from being understood, which hinders the further advancement of biomimetic material formation. In this talk, I will share our efforts on decoding the myth of biomolecular specificity to material surface and their roles in controlling crystal nucleation and growth. The selection of facet specific short peptides and their abilities in guiding predictable morphology control of Pt nanocrystals will be first demonstrated. Then detailed experimental and theoretical studies on binding mechanisms will be discussed. Based on mechanistic understanding, we designed small molecules bearing a molecular signature for face- specific adsorption to modulate the nucleation/growth of the Pt and Pt alloy nanocrystals to deliver the expected nanostructures and functions. I also will share our recent research on improving catalytic functions of nanocrystals through synthetic design. These studies open opportunities in understanding the molecular details of inorganic-organic interface interaction, which can one day lead to the development of a library of molecular functions for biomimetic materials design and engineering.

Bio: Yu Huang received her bachelor's degree in chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China, and her doctorate in physical chemistry and master's degree in chemistry from Harvard University. Before she embarked on her career at UCLA, she was awarded the prestigious Lawrence Fellowship and held a joint postdoctoral position with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and MIT. At UCLA, Huang’s research focuses on mechanistic understanding of nanoscale phenomena and on exploiting the unique properties of nanoscale materials for various applications. Taking advantage of the unique roles of nanoscale surfaces and interfaces, she is creating methodologies to apply the latest developments in nanoscale materials and nanotechnology for probing nanoscale processes that can fundamentally impact a wide range of technologies including materials synthesis, catalysis, fuel cells and devices applications. Huang’s achievements have gained her international and national recognitions including the International Precious Metal Institute Carol Tyler Award, the Materials Research Society Fellow, the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the National Institute of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award, the World’s Top 100 Young Innovators award, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry Young Chemist Award, and the Nano 50 Award.

Host: Jaeho Lee