Dr. Nick Melosh's group explores how to apply new methods from the semiconductor and self-assembly fields to important problems in biology, materials, and energy. They think about how to rationally design engineered interfaces to enhance communication with biological cells and tissues, or to improve energy conversion and materials synthesis. In particular, we are interested in seamlessly integrating inorganic structures together with biology for improved cell transfection and therapies, and designing new materials, often using diamondoid molecules as building blocks.
Dr. Melosh's group is very interested in how to design new inorganic structures that will seamless integrate with biological systems to address problems that are not feasible by other means. This involves both fundamental work such as to deeply understand how lipid membranes interact with inorganic surfaces, electrokinetic phenomena in biologically relevant solutions, and applying this knowledge into new device designs. Examples of this include “nanostraw” drug delivery platforms for direct delivery or extraction of material through the cell wall using a biomimetic gap-junction made using nanoscale semiconductor processing techniques. They also engineer materials and structures for neural interfaces and electronics pertinent to highly parallel data acquisition and recording. For instance, the Melosh group has created inorganic electrodes that mimic the hydrophobic banding of natural transmembrane proteins, allowing them to ‘fuse’ into the cell wall, providing a tight electrical junction for solid-state patch clamping. In addition to significant efforts at engineering surfaces at the molecular level, they also work on ‘bridge’ projects that span between engineering and biological/clinical needs. Dr. Melosh's long history with nano- and microfabrication techniques and their interactions with biological constructs provide the skills necessary to fabricate and analyze new bio-electronic systems.