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Engineering biology for next-generation electronics: Building integrated bionanohybrid circuits by design.

   Cardiff School of Biosciences

About the Project

Merging ideas and principles from biology with nanoscience has proved pivotal in improving our fundamental understanding of nature and the generation of new technologies that improve our everyday lives. Your project aims to embrace this principle to look at how individual protein molecules function and how these emergent properties can be used in new nanoscale applications.

From smart phones to washing machines, semiconductors have revolutionised our life by forming a key part of electronic devices. Due to their poor green credentials with regard the required materials, their manufacture and subsequent disposal, alternatives are currently being sort to replace traditional semiconductor materials. It has recently emerged that proteins are inherently electrically conductive and biomolecular events can modulate conductance.

Your project will utilise this exciting new concept to develop and apply a nano-scale approach to understand and utlise single protein molecule function through construction of solution-compatible integrated bioelectronic devices.

Building on recent work by the supervisory team you will generate user-defined single protein molecule junctions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and measure conductance across the protein junction. Dynamic changes in the bond network that underlie protein structure and function will alter conductance characteristics and output signal in real time over an extended timescale. This novel conductance-based approach will allow fundamental investigations of protein function with single molecule resolution and will in the longer term facilitate applications in biomolecular electronics and biosensing. Crucially, you will be able to control the orientation and thus conductance pathway through the protein by incorporating new chemical coupling handles at designed residue positions that will define the protein bridging configuration. This will allow unprecedented access to protein function at the single molecule level and provide new insights in the underlying processes by which proteins conduct.

You will focus on autofluorescent proteins (FPs). While an important tool in cell biology, FPs are finding uses in electronics ranging from bioLEDs, optically gated transistors, optical memory devices and as light capture and energy transfer devices (e.g. in solar cell systems). You will engineer FPs from both the green and red end of the spectrum that will allow you to optically gate conductance across the junction so generating light-dependent bio-transistors, transducers and memory.

The project will allow you to learn a broad range areas covering synthetic biology, protein engineering and nanosciences. Thus, the project will ideally be suited to a student with a background in biochemistry/chemical biology/chemistry or those with an experimental physics background with strong interest to learn biochemistry. The nature of the project means you be trained in a wide variety of techniques including protein design, genetic manipulation, non-natural amino acids incorporation, protein chemistry, single molecule imaging, nano-scale fabrication and quantitative data analysis.

An ideal applicant for this project will be someone who has studied biochemistry/chemical biology/chemistry at undergraduate level, or those with an experimental physics background with a strong interest to learn biochemistry. (Standard University entry requirements apply).

Please contact Dr Dafydd Jones for more information:

How to Apply

To submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service, click the 'Institution Website' button on this advert; in the ‘Apply’ box at the top-right of the page, select Qualification (Doctor of Philosophy), Mode of Study (Full Time) and Start Date (this can be flexible as it is a self-funded project). This will take you to the application portal.

Candidates must submit the following:

 • Supporting statement

 • CV

 • Qualification certificates

 • Proof of English language (if applicable) 

In the research proposal section of the application, specify the project title and supervisors of the project. In the funding section, specify that you will be self-funding. If you are applying for more than one Cardiff University project with the same entry intake, please note this in the research proposal section as the form only allows you to enter one title.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Biological Sciences?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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