Louisiana State University
Biological molecules and systems have a number of attributes that make them highly suitable for nanotechnology applications. For example, proteins fold into precisely defined three-dimensional shapes, and nucleic acids assemble according to well-understood rules. Antibodies are highly specific in recognizing and binding their ligands, and biological assemblies such as molecular motors can perform transport operations. Because of these and other favorable properties, biomolecules, biophysics, and biology are themes that run through all of the topics of this report.
Although very promising, the bio-related aspects of nanoparticles, nanostructured materials, and nanodevices, are, for the most part, not as well developed as the nonbiological ones. However, a number of recent workshops (e.g., the U.S./EC Workshop on Nanobiotechnology), symposia (e.g., the Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, and the Symposium on Bio-Nano Electronics), and books (e.g., Nanofabrication and Biosystems, Hoch et al. 1996) attest to the fact that many of the novel developments in this field are poised for rapid expansion.
This chapter is organized along the lines of the main report (Figure 7.1). It first puts into perspective current research directed toward biological synthesis and assembly as it pertains to the building blocks of nano-technology. It then focuses on the current state of the art in biological aspects of dispersions and coatings, high surface area materials, and functional
nanostructures. Finally, it ends with a section on the challenges and opportunities for the biological aspects of nanotechnology.