Physics Colloquium - Stealing Nature’s Tricks to Build Better Technologies

Event Date: 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 1640

Professor Kevin Plaxco, UCSB Chemistry Department


Recent years have seen the development of an increasing number of technologies built around or inspired by biomolecules and other sub-cellular systems.  When employed as artificial molecular recognition elements, however, biomolecules suffer from an often severe limitation: the physics of single-site binding is such that the useful dynamic range of such receptors, the range of target concentrations over which they respond sensitively to small changes in target concentration or structure, is fixed both in its placement and its width.

In this talk, I describe the various mechanisms that evolution has invented in order to circumvent these very same physical limitations (e.g., allostery, cooperativity), and demonstrate our ability to rationally introduce them into normally un-regulated biomolecules. This not only provides a detailed means of dissecting our understanding of these mechanisms, but also greatly improves the utility with which these biomolecules can be deployed in artificial biotechnologies.