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Long-Range Electron Transfer in Hybrid Inorganic-Peptide Nucleic Acid Nanoscale Assemblies

Our collaborative team studies electron transfer processes in peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-based structures. Our approach combines both experimental and theoretical studies, and is integrated by the groups of:

We study the properties of PNAs that contain paramagnetic transition metal ions in well-defined locations. We use experimental (i.e., spectroscopy, microscopy and electrochemistry) and theoretical (i.e., molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemistry) methods to study the electron transport properties of these nanoscale assemblies as a function of the overall length, the nature of the metal ion, and the distance between metal centers in the PNA scaffold. Other properties of the metal ion, such as coordination and reduction potential, can also affect the electron transfer and these means of control will be explored systematically.

Electron transfer is a fundamental chemical process critical to natural processes, such as energy conversion in photosynthesis, and synthetic systems, such as transistors. This work has possible implications for developing molecular-scale electronics and bioelectronics, as well as for establishing the concepts that are of fundamental importance for future advances of this kind.

This project is funded by the NSF Collaborative Research in Chemistry Program (CRC), and provides outstanding opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students to acquire knowledge and skills in supramolecular chemistry, biophysics and computational modeling. We also offer outreach programs to interested local students in science.

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