Biological systems emerge from evolved sophisticated processes developed by Nature. Understanding of how the biological materials function can help us to synthesize, control and manipulate materials at an atomic scale. Biological nanotechnology aims at the design and synthesis of novel artificial materials and devices for electronic, optical, biomedical, and spintronic applications. One of the examples of a nanoscale biological system is a plant virus (see Figure 1). Plant viruses have recently attracted attention as biological templates for assembly of nanostructures and nanoelectronic circuits.
Plant viruses can be coated with metals, silica or semiconductor materials and form end-to-end nano-rod assemblies (see Figure 2). Such virus as tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) has appropriate cylindrical shape and particularly suitable dimensions: TMV is 300 nm long, 18 nm in diameter and with a 4 nm in diameter axial channel. The knowledge of vibrational, i.e. phonon, modes of these viruses is important for materials and structural characterization of the virus-based nano-templates and for in-situ monitoring of the virus-assisted nanostructure self-assembly. NDL team has recently reported on the application of Raman spectroscopy for investigation of properties of hybrid virus-inorganic nanotubes.
Professor Balandin’s Nano-Device Laboratory (NDL) research group carries out theoretical and experimental research on bio-inspired materials and development of novel characterization techniques for such hybrid materials. NDL researchers focus on the characterization of properties and investigation of vibrational modes in the plant viruses and plant virus-based assemblies (see Figure 3). Recent results on the subject can be found in W.L. Liu, et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. (2005). Some thrusts of this biological nanotechnology research in NDL are performed under the framework of the DARPA-SRC funded MARCO Center on Functional Engineered Nano Artichectonics (FENA) . The bio-nano-tech modeling and computer simulation work in NDL is closely corellated with the group’s experimental activities described HERE, particularly micro-Raman spectroscopic investigation of phonons in hybrid nanostructures. More information on Raman spectroscopy in NDL can be found HERE.
Finally, talking about nanostructure growth, Figure 6 shows the growth of the tobacco mosaic viruses on (what else…) tobacco plants. The growth is carried out at the facilities of the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. As one can guess the method is not as expensive as molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). It is also a parallel process allowing mass production of TMV nano-templates. At the same time, do not try it at your backyard.
More information on the BIOLOGICAL NANOTECHNOLOGY and other projects currently under way in the Nano-Device Laboratory (NDL) can be found HERE. To join NDL as a graduate student or postdoctoral research visit the web-page HERE. To learn more about course offering in the field of Materials, Devices and Circuits visit the web-page HERE.
original article : http://ndl.ee.ucr.edu/biotech.htm