Conductive Protein Nanowires for Bioelectronics and Biosensors

The folding and assembly of proteins into intricate supramolecular architectures is critical to many biological functions, ranging from cellular scaffolding provided by cytoskeletal proteins to the encapsulation of nucleic acids in viral capsids. Improvements in our understanding of protein assembly is enabling the creation of biomaterials that mimic and complement biological systems. The research projects in my laboratory use synthetic biology to build functional nanoscale materials and devices from self-assembling proteins.

The recent discovery of conductive protein-based nanowires produced by bacteria has potential applications in the development of bioelectronics, biosensors, and bioelectrochemical interfaces. Exploiting this conductivity and the ability of proteins to self-assemble into complex structures may facilitate the fabrication of structured nanoscale devices that can directly interface with biological systems (e.g. enzymes). This project will create novel protein nanowires by alignment of redox-active proteins on filamentous scaffolds. Subsequently, the protein nanowires will be used to mediate the transmission of electrons for novel electrical devices, biosensors or bio-batteries.

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