Research at a Glance
The central theme of our interdisciplinary research is the emerging area of nanobiotechnology: the role of biomaterial surface chemistry in modulating the material-biology interface. Such work is crucial for biological applications of materials, given the central role of surface chemistry in constructing biomaterials with appropriate functionalities and biocompatibility. We utilize supramolecular chemistry to introduce such biocompatible/biomimetic materials. Our research has demonstrated the utility of these novel materials in different bio-applications, including diagnostics, drug discovery, therapeutic delivery, enzyme mimicking, protocell fabrication, and environmental remediation. Long-term, we aim to innovate effective point-of-care diagnostics for different diseases with personalized screening abilities, novel platforms for precision medicine, and tissue engineering incorporating the desired material properties.
Our laboratory is dedicated to the development of novel non-equilibrium self-assembly approaches aimed at mimicking biological systems. Biological systems, such as cells and tissues, are intricately organized through complex self-assembly processes driven by energy dissipation and continuous input. These dynamic systems can adapt, respond to stimuli, and exhibit emergent properties that are crucial for their biological functions. These systems possess remarkable capabilities such as self-repair, adaptation, and response to stimuli. By harnessing the principles of dissipative self-assembly, we aim to engineer synthetic materials and devices that can replicate these dynamic behaviors. This involves the development of new strategies that enable energy dissipation, energy conversion, and the utilization of external stimuli to drive and sustain self-assembly processes. Through careful design and manipulation, we aim to achieve dynamic and responsive materials capable of complex behavior, such as self-repair, self-remodeling, and adaptation to changing environments.
We introduced a dissipative molecular glue based on a vesicular system (called VesiGlue) comprising a cationic surfactant with guanidinium headgroup and ATP as a fuel, which allows effective adhesion for enzymes. Cyt C anchoring on the VesiGlue exhibits higher catalytic activity with Kcat = 1.13 × 10-3 s-1 owing to the increased local density of enzymes. Consequently, temporal regulation of individual enzymes and catalytic cascades is achieved in response to the fuel oscillation. In another approach, we have designed a supramolecular strategy for the autonomous generation of a nanozyme with multi-enzymatic activity, temporally controlled by fuel. Cu2+ and iminodiacetic acid (IDA) as a chelating agent produces catalytically active vesicular nanostructures (called NZ-Cu) that exhibit stability in harsh conditions such as high salt concentration and temperature. To mimic living biological materials, understanding the fundamental principles of the molecular interactions governing biological systems/processes would offer key insights in designing nonequilibrium systems. In this regard, we have constructed dynamic membranous vesicles using metal-templated lipid-like (lipidoid) amphiphiles. Our metallo-lipidoid nanoreactors mimic the compartmentalizing function of biological membranes and serve as a robust platform for the development of complex functional materials with adaptive features.
In summary, our laboratory is committed to pushing the boundaries of self-assembly science by developing new non-equilibrium approaches that emulate the remarkable organization and functionality found in biological systems. Ultimately, our goal is to pave the way for advancements in biomimetics and contribute to the development of transformative technologies with significant real-world impact.
We explore the fascinating world of coacervates. Coacervates are droplets formed by the spontaneous aggregation of macromolecules, such as proteins or polymers, in a solution. These droplets exhibit unique properties, acting as a primitive model for cell-like structures, and have been extensively studied in the context of abiogenesis and the origins of life. On this platform, we delve into the science behind coacervates, their relevance in understanding early evolutionary processes, and their potential applications in various fields, from biotechnology to materials science.
Biomimetics self assembled systems
Confocal and TEM images of prototissues
The impetus of advancements in biosensing technologies is to develop devices for point-of-care diagnosis, disease monitoring, and management. We carry out research focusing on the development and optimization of new platforms for biosensing. We employ a variety of materials towards this goal including nanoparticles, self-assembled structures, micellar/ vesicular systems, carbon dots, hydrogels, and so on. The main objective of our lab is to design assays that are easy to use and provide rapid but reliable diagnosis to the end users. The aim is to develop an alternative method to sophisticated and expensive laboratory instrumentation. We use both specificity-based sensing assays and selectivity-based sensing (array-based) methods towards this end.
We also work towards developing advanced gas sensing materials. Currently, we are focusing on the development of smart sensors for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as acetone, hexane, isopropanol, and ethanol which are known to be associated with the risk of diseases including cancer. Our target is to develop advanced breath analyzers using materials such as bulk and thin film/nanostructures of metal oxides for point-of-care detection of VOC-associated diseases.
Array based disrimination of analytes
At our lab, we are dedicated to working towards a sustainable future through our research on materials such as Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs), self-assembled systems, and different metal complexes. Our work focuses on developing new materials and technologies that can help address some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.
MOFs are a type of material that have unique properties such as high porosity, surface area, and tunable chemical composition. These properties make them ideal for a wide range of applications, including gas storage, separation, and catalysis. In our lab, we are exploring the potential of MOFs for use in sustainable energy and environmental applications. For example, we are investigating the use of MOFs for catalysis, oil-water separation, and gas sensing.
Photocatalytic Materials are another area of our research that has great potential for addressing environmental challenges. This process involves using light to drive chemical reactions, which can be used to degrade pollutants in water or air. We are developing new photocatalytic materials that can be used to treat wastewater and remove harmful pollutants from the air.
Pollutant degradation is another area of our research that is focused on addressing environmental challenges. We are exploring the use of advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) to remove pollutants from water and air. AOPs involve using chemical reactions to generate highly reactive species that can break down pollutants into harmless by-products. We are developing new AOPs that can be used to remove a wide range of pollutants, including organic compounds and heavy metals.
Our work is driven by a commitment to creating a more sustainable future. By developing new materials and technologies that can address environmental challenges, we are helping to create a world that is cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable for generations to come. We are proud to be part of a growing community of researchers and innovators who are working towards this common goal.
Organic pollutant degradation
Detection of pesticides
Soft materials, such as hydrogels, liposomes, polymers, and micelles, offer unparalleled versatility and adaptability for drug delivery applications. Unlike traditional materials, these soft structures have a high degree of flexibility and can be engineered to respond to specific stimuli, including pH, temperature, and enzymes. Our lab is harnessing these characteristics to design drug delivery systems that ensure targeted, sustained, and controlled release of therapeutic agents.
Soft materials also allow us to design systems with controlled and sustained drug release. By tailoring the release kinetics, we can maintain optimal drug concentrations over extended periods, reducing the frequency of administration and improving patient compliance. Our research efforts focus on understanding the underlying mechanisms governing drug release from soft materials, enabling the design of long-acting therapeutics that enhance patient convenience and therapeutic success.
Leveraging soft material’s dynamic and tailorable properties, we aim to create drug carriers that can release their therapeutic cargo at the precise site of action, ensuring optimal efficacy while minimizing side effects.