Building a dielectric map of the cell
The biological cell has been known to interact with electromagnetic stimuli for centuries. Although progress is encouraging (see this book), we are still far from building a precise map to understand how electric fields and magnetic fields interact with various parts of the cell.
Using techniques from impedance spectroscopy, In Vitro biochemistry and microscopy, we seek to understand the electrical basis of the cell. As biophysicists, we aim to understand how electromagnetic stimuli influence various intracellular targets with special emphasis on proteins. Also as engineers, we then use our understanding to optimize disease-treatment using electromagnetic stimuli. Our present interests are centred around understanding the electromagnetic properties of proteins polymers of tubulin and actin, microtubules and actin filaments respectively (see previous work in Kalra et al., 2023a; Kalra et al., 2020).
Developing protein-based nanotechnology
Silicon-based electronic waste is the fastest growing category of sold waste in the world (Ogunseitan et al., 2022). Biologically-sourced materials have been shown to hold promise as the building-blocks of nanotechnological devices, but their electronic properties are still poorly understood (Kalra et al., 2023b; Vahidzadeh et al., 2018).
Using time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, computational tools and In Vitro biochemistry, we aspire to understand how earth-abundant proteins can be put to use in a electronic devices. We seek to develop devices which can transduce electronic and electrochemical information to mechanical and biochemical reactions. Ultimately, our work will enhance the development of large-scale sustainable materials, reducing our reliance on silicon-based nanotechnology.
Seeking students for a project titled
SURVEYING PROTEINS TO MAXIMIZE
ELECTRONIC ENERGY MIGRATION IN DEVICES
Aromatic residues reinforce the tertiary structure of proteins, crucial for their dynamic intracellular roles. However, can proteins also host electronic energy migration to length scales comparable to modern semiconductor devices?
To address this question, we will study how photoexcitation diffusion varies in different proteins, from species at different locations in the world. Our work will give insight into how proteins can be utilized for the development of electronic devices. Correlations observed between the electronic properties of a protein and its' physiological function will provide insight into the possible role of proteins as biocompatible energy harvesters.
Keywords: Quantum Biology, Bioelectronics, Biophysics, Biophotonics, Energy migration, Energy transfer, Förster theory, Nanoscience.
Pre-requisites: Project is computational, knowledge of MATLAB essential.
Duration: 6-8 months
Number of publications acheived: 1