Zettl Research Group
The most important future nanotube-based strucutres are the integrated higher-order nanostructures based on functionalized nanotubes. We are exploiting chemical and biological functionalization methods. Using organic systhesis and biological techniques, we are studying on the functionalized nanostructures with biological applications.
The ability to apply organic chemistry to the ends and sidewalls of carbon and boron-nitride nanotubes suggests that an extremely wide range of functional nanostructures is possible. Biological molecules, such as biotins and proteins, can be selectively “attached” to and “released” from the nanotube. This nanotube-based system is promising on studying cells, since it is expected not to significatly perturb the living cells.
Noncovalent methods can be used to functionalize nanotubes without significantly chaging the physical properties of the nanotubes. We are intereted in biomimetic surface modification of the nanotubes by wrapping nanotubes with functional biological species, such as designed lipids and mucin mimic polymer. The resulting biomimetic surface of nanotubes can effectively mimick some biological functions, such as protein adsorption.
Also, these functionalized nanostructures are being studied for novel electonic, magnetic, thermal, mechanical and optical properties.