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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C006755/1
Title: Hybrid Bio-functionalized Surfaces
Principal Investigator: Davies, Professor AG
Other Investigators:
Evans, Professor S Stockley, Professor PG Bushby, Professor RJ
Linfield, Professor EH Walti, Professor CP
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 September 2005 Ends: 28 February 2010 Value (£): 2,688,502
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioelectronic Devices Surfaces & Interfaces
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
By the late 1950s, tens of millions of silicon transistors were being produced each year, and technologies based around transistor circuits were entering everyday life. However, further progress was impeded. As circuits became more complicated, they became increasingly difficult to assemble since each discrete component had to be individually wired to the next. The revolutionary explosion of high-speed switching, logic, and memory circuitry witnessed over the last forty years was ignited by the invention of the integrated circuit, in which all circuit components are fabricated together in the correct arrangement in a single consolidated device. Microelectronics has transformed our world, liberating and dramatically extending the capabilities of individuals, communities, companies and nations.It could be argued that the new science of nanotechnology has reached a similar crossroads to that faced by the electronics industry half a century ago. Although a wide range of nanometer-scale elements has been fabricated with fascinating properties, the ability to position and join them at molecularly accurate addresses, interface them with the outside world, and modify and manipulate molecules and molecular assemblies at the nanometre-scale, is still in its infancy. The promise for nanotechnology is immense, but without assembly or 'integration' technologies, nanotechnology will never realize its potential. The solution may be provided by biology.The selective self-assembly properties inherent to many biological systems have been identified as a possible technique to direct the assembly of nanoscale components at the molecular level. The power of what can be achieved by even the simplest biomolecules has been illustrated by the use of the Watson-Crick interaction between two complementary strands of DNA to control the assembly of, eg, colloidal suspensions and molecular wires. But the introduction of biological systems into nanotechnology has a very much greater potential. Biological evolution has led to the creation of molecules whose physical properties and chemical functions generally far exceed anything that can be designed in the laboratory. Biomolecules comprising simple polymers of a restricted set of just 20 naturally occurring amino acids have impressive ranges of physical and functional properties, from mechanical strength (collagen) to force generation (muscle) to motors (bacterial flagellae). Indeed, some large molecular assemblies are so sophisticated that they appear purposeful (simple viruses such as phage). And, it is sobering to reflect how the reach of synthetic chemistry with 4-5 million known compounds is dwarfed by the 10E39 possible sequences of a tiny peptide of just 30 amino acids. It seems reasonable to conclude that in such astronomical sequence libraries there are unique molecules with almost any desired property.We believe that the next-generation of disruptive technologies will emerge from a marriage of the unique tools offered to us by biology with the powerful, highly developed discipline of digital microelectronics. The key is the development of techniques to interface the biological and electronic components; this is what we will pursue here.We envision coupling bio-molecules that function in novel ways directly onto electronic devices. Our hybrid bio-electronic technology will permit the bi-directional sensing and control of signals; molecular and biological signals will be converted into electronic information, whilst electronic signals will control the activity of bio-molecules in a programmable and reconfigurable manner. Devices built on these principles will create new tools to tailor the interfacial interactions that underpin so many applications of everyday relevance from bio-compatibility to catalysis, and of future relevance, such as nanostructure engineering.
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk