Sunday, August 07, 2011

Further advance in the integration of organic and inorganic matter

A fundamental research focus in nanotechnology is the deliberate creation of organic-inorganic hybrids such as rotaxanes that have the properties of both organic and inorganic matter. These nanomaterials can greatly extend the range of control and manipulation that can occur in nanomedicine and other applications.

One interesting recent example is engineered fusion proteins, inorganic-binding peptides conjugated with bioluminescence proteins. The fusion proteins can be used as bioimaging molecular probes both targeting minerals (through fluorescence labeling) and monitoring the rate of biomineralization (through induced reactions). (Yuca et al., Biotechnol Bioeng. 2011 May;108(5):1021-30.)

Figure 1. Integrating organic and inorganic materials: graphene sheet sandwiched in the hydrophobic interior of a phospholipid

Another example (Figure 1) is graphene sheets sandwiched in the hydrophobic interior of a phospholipid. The phospholipid layers of the membrane electrically isolate the embedded graphene from the external solution which means that the composite system could be used in the development of biosensors and bioelectronic materials. (Titov et al., ACS Nano. 2010 Jan 26;4(1):229-34.)

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