Nanotechnology in Bioengineering

George Vermont
Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Division, Directorate for Engineering, NSF

All of the bioengineering programs could be considered to be operating on a molecular or cellular "nano" scale. However, for purposes of this discussion I will use the much narrower definition of fabricated nanostructures or nanodevices.

Using that tighter definition, Bioengineering is supporting approximately $500,000 of nanotechnology programs. Two examples are the work of Frances Arnold at Cal Tech and that of Bruce Locke at Florida State. Dr. Arnold ($162,000, 1997) is using simple sugar complexes to template specific-sized holes in heavily cross-linked polymers. The polymer network then serves as a selective detection system for these sugars. Using such technology, an accurate glucose monitor has been developed. Likewise, Dr. Locke ($148,000, 1997) is using rigid oligonucleoside chains to create specific pore dimensions in separation gels. These gel membranes provide very selective separation media. Both processes depend on using molecular species to form specific-sized holes in polymeric networks and then removing the template material by washing in solubilizing solutions.

One area that might profit from additional funds is the development of micro/nano sensors to analyze and elucidate the metabolic pathways within individual microbial and mammalian cells. This need was highlighted at the international conference held in Danvers, MA, 6-11 October 1996, "Recombinant DNA Biotechnology: Focus on Metabolic Engineering."



A Glucose-Sensing Polymer

Guohua Chen, Zhibin Guan,1 Chao-Tsen Chen,2 Litian Fu, Vidyasankar Sundaresan, and Frances H. Arnold*

Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 210-41, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
91125 1Division of Materials Sciences, DuPont Central Research, Experimental Station, Bldg. 328, Wilmington,
DE 19880 2Box 768, Havemeyer Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027. *Corresponding author

(A) Glucose binding to the TACN-Cu2-complex (1) at alkaline pH results in the release of protons.
(B) Preparation of a glucose-sensing polymer by molecular imprinting with methyl-(-b-glucopyranoside.

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Published: January 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian