• Kotov LAB

  • Supraparticles

  • Helical Assembly

  • Kirigami Optics

  • Artificial nacre

  • Gold nanoparticle composite

Welcome to Biomimetic Nanostructures!

The nanoscale components of living organisms have surprising similarities with inorganic nanoparticles that we are only just beginning to understand. The scientific mission of our group is to identify such similarities by experimental, theoretical, and simulation methods. The physicochemical mechanisms unifying the seemingly different classes of nanoscale structures traditionally associated with biology and inorganic chemistry, for instance fibrillating proteins and self-assembling nanoparticles, enable us to re-create the complex adaptive and self-organization behavior of biological systems. At the same time, we can enhance the materials using the optical, electrical, and mechanical advantages of inorganic materials.

Using this intellectual toolbox, we strive to advance both the science and technology of biomimetic nanostructures. The potential engineering implementations of such materials are abundant. For example, replication of the brick-and-mortar structure of tough iridescent seashells by layered assemblies of nanosheets (clay, graphene, etc) leads to a family of biomimetic composites with remarkably high toughness and iridescence. Both of these properties are technologically valuable in both large and small load-bearing structures from buildings to microchips. Furthermore, the high conductivity and mechanical robustness of these nanocomposites enable the construction of a large family of energy storage and electronic devices, as well as medical implants. The self-assembly of nanoparticles into chiroplasmonic and chiroexcitonic superstructures also engenders photonic devices with biosimilar image processing.

Our current studies are aimed at deepening our understanding of the differences and similarities between biological and inorganic nanostructures of similar size, charge, and surface chemistry, for instance between some water-soluble nanoparticles and globular proteins. Some of the emerging topics include the ability of such nanoparticles to replicate complex and dynamic biological structures, such as viruses, cellular organelles, and protocells. Recent work from our and other groups indicate that nanoscale engineering of such systems is possible but it will require better quantification of the fundamental nanoscale forces between nanoparticles. The practical reasons to undertake these tasks are multiple; they include the realization of biomimetic catalysis of ‘hard’ reactions, development of new antimicrobial agents, and phytobiome-centered agriculture. Appreciating the difficulties of these problems and single-lab limits, we collaborate with colleagues around the globe to answer these fundamental questions and make some of these emerging technologies a reality.

We take pride in the scientific and technological advancements made by our laboratory. However, this is only a part of our mission. The continuous personal growth of researchers is inseparable from all the published (5%) and unpublished (95%) findings made. Fostering intellectual and career development is the foundation of the academic culture of this research group. Inquisitive people of all ages and backgrounds who enjoy unorthodox approaches to problems will find a stimulating opportunity here. We value creativity, integrity, and tenacity in every person with whom we work.

Thank you for visiting our website!

Nicholas A. Kotov

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