Organisms have been making exquisite inorganic materials for over 500 million years. These materials have many desired physical properties such as strength and regularity, which permit the organism to thrive in specific biological and physical environments. My lab seeks to expand the types of materials that living systems can utilize to make advanced technologies that are smarter and better adapted, using environmentally suitable techniques. One approach to designing future technologies which have some of the properties that living organisms use so well, is to evolve organisms to work with a more diverse set of building blocks. New nanostructured materials can be grown and assembled for energy storage, solar, carbon capture and re-use, catalysis, oil recovery and medical imaging by using genetic control as well as biologically inspired synthesis. In the field of energy storage, biologically enhanced electrode designs improve specific capacity and cycling performance of lithium-oxygen batteries by utilizing high-efficiency nanocatalysts assembled by the M13 virus with earth-abundant elements. My lab uses rationally designed biological nanocomposites with high electron mobility to efficiently collect photo-generated electrons to improve the performance of photovoltaic devices. I will show work done in my lab on biological materials that have been engineered to increase light collection and enable light driven reactions. Environmental applications include genetically modified yeast engineered to convert carbon dioxide into building materials and replacement of scarce materials. Medical applications include development of targeted probes in the second window near IR for detection and real-time surgical guidance of submillimeter ovarian tumors.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free and open to the public