Research

Mission Statement

  • Explore complex and dynamic self-assembly using DNA as programmable molecules.

  • Use DNA self-assembly for the finest positional control of molecules for the construction of interactive spatial networks of chemical and biochemical species.

  • Develop multicomponent and multifunctional nanoparticle and nanowire materials for biosensing, bioimaging and energy applications.

 


Structural DNA Nanotechnology

We use DNA as a programmable nanoscale building material to construct designer nanoarchitectures with increasing complexity in two and three dimensional spaces. We are interested in hierarchical engineering of sophisticated nanmachines.

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Bioinspired Material

Nature has evolved delicate cellular machineries for all living forms. In biological systems, a series of functional components (e.g., enzyme, cofactor, chaperon, etc.) often work in a corporative manner. The interaction between them are usually confined by natural scaffold (e.g., scaffold protein) and can be tuned dynamically in response to foreign stimulations. Inspired by this, we aim to organize biomolecules onto deliberately designed DNA scaffold to study distance and spatial-dependent interactions between various biomolecules and ligands. Our ultimate goal is to construct self-assembled, dynamic and functional biomolecular networks for therapeutic applications.

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Nanophotonics and Nanoelectronics

Metalllic and semiconducting nanoparticles possess unique optoelectrical properties. The organization power of DNA makes it possible to position discrete number of nanoparticles in 2D and 3D with nanometer precision, which offers an ideal platform to study the collective properties of nanoparticles. Emerging photonic properties are expected from designer nanoparticle architectures for photonic device applications. DNA directed assembly of nanoparticles, in conjunction with surface patterning techniques, provides a promising route for massively parallel fabrication of nanodevices.

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Biosensing

The programmability and biocompatibility are the most unique and treasurable properties that self-assembling DNA nanoarrays offer us. Taking advantage of these, we seek to build DNA-array-based platforms for the multiplexed detection of nucleic acid, protein, and other biological relevant molecules at single cell level. Nucleic acid probes with specific molecular binding abilities (e.g., aptamers) are incorporated in the nanoarray for protein and nucleic acid profiling.
 

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Inorganic nanomaterial synthesis and Bioconjugation

Many of the above research require the preparation of water-soluble and bio-molecule conjugated nanoparticles. We are interested in developing simple and robust method for creating stable water-soluble nanoparticle-biomolecule conjugates. Such bioconjugated nanoparticles will be utilized to build multicomponent and multifunctional hierarchical structures of unique properties.

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Self-replication and dynamic molecular assembly

We are interested in in vitro and in vivo replications of nucleic acid based nanostructures for scaling up and evolving functional nanostructures. Another important aspect of our research directions is to create self-assembling structures that are dynamic which allows one to trigger a cascading molecular event using either small molecules or biological molecules as logical inputs. We are interested in collective behaviors of different molecules interacting with each other.

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Multifunctional nanostructures interfacing with cellular system 

We are interested in developing geometrically defined and multifunctional nucleic acid nanostructures that target specific organelles of biological cells for potential applications in cancer therapy and drug delivery.