My research focuses on the integration of solid binding peptides (SBPs) within the framework of proton-transporting transmembrane proteins to create new devices and materials that will enable next-generation energy systems. SBPs are combinatorially selected peptides that bind with high affinity to inorganic materials. By genetically inserting these peptides at various sites of functional transmembrane proteins (e.g., light-activated ion transporters), and by exploiting emerging techniques to isolate and stabilize the resulting chimera in polymeric nanoparticles, I intend to fabricate new devices to control charge transfer and chemical potential across interfaces in response to light illumination. Additionally, I am interested in developing responsive materials in which these modified transmembrane proteins are used within the context of living cells to locally acidify the medium and mediate the precipitation of materials such as titania upon illumination. Synthesis of titania is of particular interest as material for lithium-ion batteries and solar cells.
Advisor: Francois Baneyx – Chemical Engineering