Research activities in our group have primarily focused on nanotechnology-enabled approaches to biointerfacing materials, for fundamental and applied research in the biomedical and energy sciences:
The ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological tissue with functional electronics could enable the creation of bionic organs possessing enhanced functionalities over their human counterparts. We are developing novel strategies for additive manufacturing (3D printing) of biological cells with a variety of nanoelectronic elements. As a proof of concept, we 3D printed bionic ears in the anatomic geometries of human ears. The printed ears exhibit inductive electronic sensing for radio frequency reception, and complementary left and right ears can receive stereo music signals.
The synergism of nanotechnology and molecular biology may enable new frontiers in biomimetic detection. Chemical and biological sensing requires a recognition platform to selectively detect target analytes. Our group has developed new methods for linking biorecognition molecules such as peptides with graphene nanosensors to enable sensitive and selective detection of various species. Further, we've shown the direct interfacing of graphene nanosensors onto biomaterials such as teeth. These advances may enable novel, versatile platforms for ubiquitous target detection.
The development of a method for directly interfacing energy conversion materials onto the body could open new avenues of powering portable, wearable, and even implantable biomedical devices. Piezoelectric nanomaterials such as PZT are particularly interesting due to their highly efficient electromechanical coupling. Our group has developed new methods for the fabrication and characterization of PZT nanoribbons. In addition, we've demonstrated the ability to biointerface these nanomaterials with cells and tissue, for fundamental investigations of biomechanics.