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. We have used the immune system to create tools for recognition, assembly, and control of nanoscale fabrication, specifically fullerenes and carbon nanotubes. I will discuss the creation highly specific fullerene antibodies, as well as their selective binding to various fullerene and carbon nanotube materials. 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 and optimize these tools to a broad array of fullerene nanofabrication problems. Progress toward the application of antibodies in the construction of molecular surfaces, and fullerene and nanotube biosensors will be discussed. (This work was done with collaboration with Dr. Bernard Erlanger at Columbia University Medical School and Dr. Bradford Braden at Bowie State University.)