Publications / SAND Report

Assembly and actuation of nanomaterials using active biomolecules

Sasaki, Darryl Y.; Koch, Steven J.; Thayer, Gayle E.; Corwin, Alex D.; De Boer, Maarten P.; Bunker, B.C.; Bachand, George B.; Rivera, Susan B.; Gaudioso, Jennifer M.; Trent, Amanda M.; Spoerke, Erik D.

The formation and functions of living materials and organisms are fundamentally different from those of synthetic materials and devices. Synthetic materials tend to have static structures, and are not capable of adapting to the functional needs of changing environments. In contrast, living systems utilize energy to create, heal, reconfigure, and dismantle materials in a dynamic, non-equilibrium fashion. The overall goal of the project was to organize and reconfigure functional assemblies of nanoparticles using strategies that mimic those found in living systems. Active assembly of nanostructures was studied using active biomolecules to drive the organization and assembly of nanocomposite materials. In this system, kinesin motor proteins and microtubules were used to direct the transport and interactions of nanoparticles at synthetic interfaces. In addition, the kinesin/microtubule transport system was used to actively assemble nanocomposite materials capable of storing significant elastic energy. Novel biophysical measurement tools were also developed for measuring the collective force generated by kinesin motor proteins, which will provide insight on the mechanical constraints of active assembly processes. Responsive reconfiguration of nanostructures was studied in terms of using active biomolecules to mediate the optical properties of quantum dot (QD) arrays through modulation of inter-particle spacing and associated energy transfer interaction. Design rules for kinesin-based transport of a wide range of nanoscale cargo (e.g., nanocrystal quantum dots, micron-sized polymer spheres) were developed. Three-dimensional microtubule organizing centers were assembled in which the polar orientation of the microtubules was controlled by a multi-staged assembly process. Overall, a number of enabling technologies were developed over the course of this project, and will drive the exploitation of energy-driven processes to regulate the assembly, disassembly, and dynamic reorganization of nanomaterials.