SGER: Protein Based Nano-Motors and Nano-Robots

Project Details


This project studies the development of protein-based nano-motors and nano-robots. The goal is to develop novel and revolutionary biomolecular machine components that can be assembled and form multi-degree of freedom nanodevices that will be able to apply forces and manipulate objects in the nanoworld, transfer information from the nano to the macro world and also be able to travel in the nanoenvironment. These

machines are expected to be highly efficient, economical in mass production, work under little supervision and be controllable. The vision is that such ultra-miniature robotic systems and nano-mechanical devices will be the biomolecular electromechanical hardware of future planetary, military or medical missions. Some proteins, due to their structural characteristics and physicochemical properties constitute potential candidates for this role. The specific aims of this project are: a) To identify proteins that can be used as motors in nano / micro machines and mechanisms. We will focus our studies on the mechanical properties of viral proteins to fold or unfold depending on the pH level of environment. Thus, a new, powerful, linear biomolecular actuator type is obtained that we call: Viral Protein Linear (VPL) motor. Various viral proteins will be studied and from them different VPL motors will be produced; b) To develop dynamic models and realistic simulations / animations to accurately predict the performance of the proposed VPL motors; c) To perform a series of biomolecular experiments to demonstrate the validity of the proposed concept of VPL motors; d) To study, both computationally and experimentally, the interface of the proposed protein motors with other biomolecular components such as DNA joints and carbon-nanotube rigid links so that complex, multi-degree of freedom machines and robots are formed.

The broader impact and outreach activities of this project are: a) the initiation of undergraduate students in research; b) the establishment of collaborative projects on nanotechnology with the science and technology high schools of New Jersey with the objective to attract new students in this field; c) the organization of a special session at the annual ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) on nano-robotics; and d) the development and maintenance of a webpage on bio-nano-robotic systems.

Effective start/end date9/1/028/31/03


  • National Science Foundation: $50,000.00


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