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!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy