3-D Enzymatic Nanomaterial Architectures for Energy Harvesting (DOE-AFOSR - PI Atanassov)

One of the critical challenges in developing advanced energy harvesting technologies is the engineering of the interface between biological components and nanoscale materials. Frequently biomolecules and nanoscale materials are developed independently and thus neither are fully optimized for device integration. This collaborative research program brings together scientists from Columbia University, UNM, University of Utah and University of Washington to work towards a new paradigm in biotechnology where bio-molecular assemblies and heterogeneous complexes are created and developed in a synergistic fashion using experimental and computational techniques so that nanostructured architectures will be readily deployable in the next generation of energy harvesting systems.


Schematic rendering of the UNM approach to integrate the enzymes (such as SLAC) with CNT with a help of ssDNA oligomers that attach specifically Zn-finger peptides. The insert shows AFM image of the experimental assembly cartooned here.

Three Research Thrusts have been designed by an outstanding and highly collaborative research team such that the first two Thrusts are bottom-up approaches and the third Thrust is a top-down strategy with all three Thrusts aimed at developing novel 3-D nanostructured enzymatic architectures. The first Thrust will focus on the design of heterogeneous bio-molecular complexes through the rational assembly of bio-molecular parts and nanostructured components. The second Thrust will use computational bio-molecular design to create unique protein and nano-component interfaces that will self-assemble and form functional crystalline materials. The final Thrust will aim to reverse engineer natural heterogeneous protein complexes to create new self-assembling functional metabolic units. By creating fully integrated and functional systems, common roadblocks such as stability, transport limitations, and activity losses can be addressed and optimized during the development process. The new 3-D structured enzymatic nanoscale architectures demonstrated through the completion of this proposal can be readily deployed into applied programs focused in enzymatic biofuel cells, bio-solar, bio-hydrogen, and bio-battery applications. This program comes as a successor to a AFOSR MURI that was the largest CEET award and included several universities across US. CFDRC, a technology development company has currently 3 funded STTR/SBIR programs with the Air Force and the Army to bring the results of the enzymatic biofuel cell program to commercialization. Two companies were established by UNM graduate students to foster the technology transfer and prototype development and marketing of the enzymatic biofuel cells.

G.P.M.K. Ciniciato, C. Lau, A. Cochrane, S.S. Sibbett, E.R. Gonzalez and P. Atanassov, Development of Paper-based Electrodes: from Air-breathing to Printable Enzymatic Cathodes, Electrochimica Acta, 82 (2012) 208-213
S. Brocato, C. Lau and P. Atanassov, Mechanistic Study of Direct Electron Transfer in Bilirubin Oxidase, Electrochimica Acta, 61 (2012) 44-49
C. Lau, E.R. Adkins, R.P. Ramasamy, H.R. Luckarift, G.R. Johnson and P. Atanassov, Design of Carbon-Nanotube-Based Gas Diffusion Cathode for O2 Reduction by Multicopper Oxidase, Advanced Energy Materials, 2 (2012) 162-168