This proposal was received in response to Nanoscale Science and Engineering initiative, NSF 04-043, category NIRT.
This Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) project will create nanofabricated, biofunctionalized arrays to study the fundamental relationship between spatial order and function in biochemical systems. These 'nanoscale bioarrays' will be fabricated using leading edge nanofabrication technology to allow investigation of structure-function relationships on the molecular scale, i.e. a few to tens of nanometers. The arrays will be organized hierarchically, with unit cells (comprising one or more biofunctionalized 2-10 nm metal dots) organized into micron-sized domains, and patterned in mm-size areas. Each domain will comprise identical unit cells, and the unit cell geometry will be systematically varied from domain to domain, in order to allow for straightforward assay techniques on the micron scale. The nanoscale bioarray technique will be applied to three biological investigations: 1, the study of the dependence of binding of large cytoskeletal proteins on the spatial arrangement of ligands; 2, the study of the effect of ordering cytoplasmic dynein molecules on microtubule-dependent motility; 3, the seeding of protein crystals.
Intellectual Merit: This project attempts to push the limits of nanofabrication technology in order to interface with biological systems. It will employ a "top-down" approach to study and control "bottom-up" assembly, function and synthesis of these systems. Each sub-project will use nanofabrication technology to extend a biological question or problem beyond where currently available techniques will allow. The project is organized around a central theme and fabrication technique, which will allow for rapid technology development. The project addresses the research and education theme "Biosystems at the Nanoscale."
Broader Impacts: This project will have many broader impacts. The advances in the use of solid-state nanofabrication to address biological and chemical problems will enhance research infrastructure in ways that will impact areas of biological science beyond just cytoskeleton-based motility or protein crystallization. The participation of young scientists-in-training in this interdisciplinary environment will foster development of a cadre of future scientists with the necessary knowledge and cultural and technical skills to successfully pursue novel multidisciplinary science and technology. Undergraduate students will also participate in the research, including students drawn from institutions in the New York City area with significant minority enrollment. The Principal Investigator will draw on his experience as a New York City public high school teacher to extend outreach to the K-12 level.