Dr Alasdair Clark awarded EPSRC First Grant

Issued: Thu, 17 Mar 2016 19:19:00 GMT

Dr. Alasdair Clark from the Biomedical Engineering Research Division has been awarded an EPSRC First Grant to explore molecularly controlled nanophotonic systems. The £125,000 award will run from May 2016 to May 2017.

only nano colors

Nanophotonics is a term used to describe the interaction of light with objects (usually metals) that have nanometer scale dimensions. Harnessing these interactions has enabled an unprecedented degree of optical control at these sub-microscopic levels, opening the door to a raft of new devices, materials and surfaces based on the unique physics unlocked by the engineering and organisation of nanophotonic structures. However, as we are reaching the limit of what traditional fabrication techniques can achieve, there is the need to develop new techniques for the assembly nanophotonic particles if we are to maintain our current rapid progress in this area and develop the smart optical surfaces and devices of the future. The aim of this project, based at The University of Glasgow's School of Engineering, is to introduce a new fabrication and manipulation tool-set to the field of nanophotonics; a tool-set based on synthetic-biology which has the capability to not only assemble nanophotonic surfaces using biological interactions, but to have those surfaces remain biologically active such that they can reconfigure their nanoscale geometries in response to different molecular cues.‌

This technology will be made possible by fusing traditional 'top-down' lithography with a reconfigurable 'bottom-up' self-assembly method based on interaction of DNA nanopatterns with site-specific recombination enzymes. By selectively patterning a nanophotonic surface with DNA we will be able to manipulate the placement of individual metallic nanoparticles within that array through the action of said enzymes; creating photonic interactions that alter the optical properties and output of that surface. The addition of particular synthetic biology machinery and tools will allow us to remove, swap or relocate these nanoparticles to other specifically engineered points on the surface, eliciting a new optical response. Representing a new platform technology, the augmentation of nanophotonic surfaces with synthetic biology to  will open up new avenues of materials research and device generation based on reconfigurable nano-architectures.