The Nano Revolution: Bottom-up Manufacturing with Biomolecules
Nanoscience Seminar by Jonathan Trent, NASA Ames Research Center and University of California Santa Cruz
As the nano-scale becomes a focus for engineering electronic, photonic, medical, and other important devices, an unprecedented role for biomolecules is emerging to address one of the most formidable problems in nano-manufacturing: precise manipulation and organization of matter on the nano-scale. Biomolecules are a solution to this problem because they themselves are nanoscale particles with intrinsic properties that allow them to precisely self-assemble and self-organize into the amazing diversity of structures observed in nature. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the combination of molecular recognition and self-assembly combined with mutation, selection, and replication have the potential to create structures that could truly revolutionize manufacturing processes in many sectors of industry. Genetically engineered biomolecules are already being used to make the next generation of nano-scale templates, nano-detailed masks, and molecular scaffolds for the future manufacturing of electronic devices, medical diagnostic tools, and chemical engineering interfaces. This presentation will explore the feasibility of this approach, using examples from the Protein Nanotechnology Group at NASA Ames, which is using proteins to create templates for data storage devices, pathogen sensors for medical diagnostics, and enzyme arrays to help solve the impending energy crisis.