A Dartmouth College scientist and his collaborators have created an artificial protein that organizes new materials at the nanoscale.
"This is a proof-of-principle study demonstrating that proteins can be used as effective vehicles for organizing nano-materials by design," says senior author Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth.
Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, and his collaborators have created an artificial protein that self-organizes into a new material -- an atomically periodic lattice of buckminster fullerene molecules, or buckyball, a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball.
Credit: St Stev via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
"If we learn to do this more generally - the programmable self-assembly of precisely organized molecular building blocks -- this will lead to a range of new materials towards a host of applications, from medicine to energy."
The study appears in the journal in Nature Communications. A PDF is available on request.
According to the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale - or the atomic and molecular level -- to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.
Proteins are "smart" molecules, encoded by our genes, which organize and orchestrate essentially all molecular processes in our cells. The goal of the new study was to create an artificial protein that would self-organize into a new material -- an atomically periodic lattice of buckminster fullerene molecules.
Buckminster fullerene (buckyball for short) is a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball. Buckyballs have an array of unusual properties, which have excited scientists for several decades because of their potential applications.
Buckyballs are currently used in nanotechology due to their high heat resistance and electrical superconductivity, but the molecule is difficult to organize in desired ways, which hampers its use in the development of novel materials.
In their new research, Grigoryan and his colleagues show that their artificial protein does interact with buckyball and indeed does organize it into a lattice. Further, they determined the 3-dimensional structure of this lattice, which represents the first ever atomistic view of a protein/buckyball complex.
"Learning to engineer self-assembly would enable the precise organization of molecules by design to create matter with tailored properties," Grigoryan says.
"In this research, we demonstrate that proteins can direct the self-assembly of buckminsterfullerene into ordered superstructures. Further, excitingly, we have observed this protein/buckyball lattice conducts electricity, something that the protein-alone lattice does not do. Thus, we are beginning to see emergent material behaviors that can arise from combing the fascinating properties of buckyball and the abilities of proteins to organize matter at the atomic scale. Taken together, our findings suggest a new means of organizing fullerene molecules into a rich variety of lattices to generate new properties by design."
The study included researchers from Dartmouth College, Sungkyunkwan University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the National Institute of Science Education and Research, the University of California-San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute for Basic Science.
Dartmouth Assistant Professor Gevorg Grigoryan is available to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Broadcast studios: Dartmouth has TV and radio studios available for interviews. For more information, visit: http://communications.
John Cramer | EurekAlert!
Matchmaking with consequences
17.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Taking screening methods to the next level
17.10.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...
Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy