Microscale BioMEMS & Nanoscale Biomimesis
Series: Final Public Oral Examinations
Location: Eisenhart Room (E-Quad G201)
Date/Time: Thursday, December 19, 2013, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
The development of methods for exploiting and controlling biomolecular recognition at micro- to nanometer scales could enable new understandings of interactions of living and non-living systems, and impact a diversity of fields including regenerative medicine, renewable energy, and bionic electronics. BioMEMS refers to the use of microfabrication technologies for biomedical and biological applications, and often capitalizes on microfluidics for precise manipulation and parallelization of processes. Contrarily, biomimesis refers to the exploitation of biological principles to address engineering problems. Having evolved over billions of years, natural systems may serve as rich exemplars for novel synthetic routes to new materials and material morphologies, particularly at the nanometer scale. Unifying these two concepts is their shared objective of furthering our understanding of biological and materials interfaces, and of implementing these insights in novel device concepts which both mimic or enhance biology and advance small-scale fabrication technologies.
This thesis explores new avenues in the use of bioMEMS and biomimesis from the micro- and nano-meter scales. Specifically, it examines 1) the use of bioMEMS for biocombinatorial studies of molecule complementarity, 2) the control of neurite growth using microfluidically-applied mechanical forces, and 3) the use of biomimesis for the rational synthesis of new nanoscale smart materials.
The results presented in this dissertation further our understanding of fundamental biomolecular dynamics and interactions, including the interfacial phenomena governing interplay with inorganic materials. Foreseeable applications run the gamut from diagnostics and therapeutics to next generation nano-sensors, actuators, and energy harvesters. The symbiosis of micro-and nanoscale devices and biological building blocks seems an instinctive partnership, forged by homologous dimensions and reinforced by complementary properties, and this thesis provides unique new contributions at this interface.