There are many biologic materials on the size scale of 10-9 meters – the nanoscale. These systems often possess unique properties, including highly specific binding and recognition, which are ideal characteristics for nanotool design. As nanoscale science expands, we believe that hybrid biologic and non-biologic systems provide exciting new possibilities.
In this lecture I will report progress toward conscripting living systems in service to materials science. Stated most succinctly, we are using the immune system to create tools for recognition, assembly, and control of nanoscale fabrication, specifically fullerenes and carbon nanotubes. The first steps toward that goal have been achieved. I will report the creation of highly specific fullerene antibodies, and will discuss the gene sequence and molecular biology of this new class of fullerene-binding proteins.
The most intimate details of the interactions between a buckyball molecule and a cloned and sequenced monoclonal antibody are revealed in a high-resolution, single-crystal X-ray structure of this protein. We are applying molecular modeling and design by site-directed mutagenesis to adapt these tools to a broad array of fullerene nanofabrication problems. Progress toward the application of anti-fullerene and anti-nanotube antibodies in the construction of molecular vise-grips and fullerene biosensors will be discussed.