Evolving technology to facilitate transport attracted mankind from its beginnings. Whereas the history is full of success stories in the macroscopic world, new principles have to be employed to control molecular motion on the nanoscale. Nature has evolved specialized molecules, namely motor proteins, to actively transport molecules over long distances and against concentration gradients. Our research is aimed at learning how to control the motion of motor proteins in non-biological environments in order to transport cargo between user-specified locations. Of particular interest is to know whether the topology of polymers or thin polymer coatings can be utilized to control the direction in which biological motors move. Results will be presented where shear deposited polymer films have been used successfully to guide the motion of microtubules on surfaces. We will discuss the underlying molecular mechanism by which the nanoscale surface topology of shear deposited polymer films guides their motion.
Director, Center for Nanotechnology
Department of Bioengineering, Box 352125
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195