Biomolecular recognition is considered one of the most promising approaches for high-throughput nanofabrication. For example, the ability of proteins, peptides or DNA to assemble spontaneously into complex and well-defined 3D structures has been exploited for fabricating a range of nano-structured materials and devices. In most current approaches to biomolecular assembly, the biological molecules are passive components, designed to assemble spontaneously into the desired nanostructure. However, if biomolecular recognition could be modulated dynamically, reversibly and deterministically, a range of new and disruptive capabilities could arise. For example, capture molecules with electronically controllable affinity would enable the directed and reversible assembly of a wide range of nanomaterials.
This project will develop the capabilities that underpin this vision. This will be achieved by exploiting synthetic α-helical coiled-coil peptides designed rationally to switch between active and inactive conformations in response to changes in the local environment. By integrating these synthetic molecules with electronic circuitry, you will develop mechanisms to switch their conformation and thus biomolecular self-assembly electronically. In addition to potential for application in nanofabrication, technologies and capabilities that emerge from this proposal could impact on molecular computation, environmental monitoring, healthcare and artificial catalytic pathways.
Successful applicants will have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities through the York JEOL Nanocentre, the Bioscience Technology Facility, the Department of Electronic Engineering Cleanroom and the newly refurbished Bioinspired Technologies Laboratory. This project requires a highly multi-disciplinary approach to research and would suit enthusiastic candidates with a background in electronic engineering, physics, chemistry, biophysics, biological sciences or a related discipline.