The James Frank Institute, Department of Chemistry
The University of Chicago
929 E. 57th Street, GCIS E 139C
Chicago, IL 60637
2013 Searle Scholar
Research InterestsI am interested in probing the molecular-nano interface between biological and semiconductor systems, a new regime for fundamental understanding of cell signaling pathways, bioenergetics, cell-based therapy and biological cybernetics. To this end, my group emphasizes novel material synthesis and device concepts, and draws inspiration and methods from a variety of fields, including physical chemistry, materials science, chemical biology, biophysics, and engineering. I have three immediate goals:
Nanoelectronic Exploration of Cellular Systems:We seek the ability to monitor the electrophysiology of living cells in real time with good spatiotemporal resolution as a means of advancing knowledge of cellular signaling pathways. The objective of this part of our work, which I propose for support as a Searle Scholar, is to develop methods for high resolution electrical and optoelectronic stimulation and recording of neural dynamics and heterogeneity immediately relevant to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
Synthetic Cellular Interactions:We seek to both imitate cellular behavior using semiconductor nanomaterials and to augment existing biological systems with semiconductor components. We hope to stably incorporate inorganic materials into the pre-existing cellular frameworks, examining both how single cells interact with these new artificial components, and what uniquely inorganic properties (e.g., electrical and optoelectronic responses, bioorthogonality) we can exploit to derive a more nuanced control over these cellular systems.
Development of Biomimetic Nanoscale Materials and Devices:As inorganic nanomaterial synthesis methods improve, scientists and engineers are able to utilize new techniques to design novel nanoscale systems of length scales comparable to biological systems, allowing for unique interactions. Additionally, biological systems are capable of a large degree of morphological and synthetic control, achieving these transformations under relatively benign conditions. We are interested in probing these types of systems, utilizing naturally inspired processes for semiconductor material synthesis. Finally, biological systems exhibit many unique properties not commonly observed in semiconductor materials such as homeostatic regulation and environmental adaptability. We are interested in exploring analogs to these types of behaviors in semiconductor systems, and examining how these insights can be applied towards new material and device designs for applications in regenerative medicine.
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