Current projects in the group
Protein-based conductive biopolymers as a sustainable and green chemistry approach for large scale electronics
The most studied project of our group concerning the use of proteins as an abundant source of building blocks for the formation of novel biopolymers using green chemistry principles, with a special focus on the charge transport capabilities of such biopolymers. We focus on using proteins that can be considered as waste, hence our approach promotes sustainability and circular use of materials. In terms of charge transport capabilities, we focus both on electronic transport as well as ionic transport.
Biological charge and energy transfer
Charge transfer as well as energy transfer is one of the most fundamental processes in nature with notable examples as photosynthesis and aerobic respiration. In our group, we are developing new methodologies to decipher the mysteries of various natural charge and energy transfer processes. The research in our group is divided according to the charge carrier (electrons vs. protons) and the charge mediator:
Proton diffusion on the surface of membranes
It is known for many years that proton diffusion on the surface of membranes is much different than proton diffusion in bulk aqueous solutions. In our lab, we introduced a new fluorescent probe that can be tethered to membranes and allowing us to use it as a light-induced proton donor as well as a proton acceptor in its excited-state. We explore the role of the different phospholipids in mediating protons, and the effect of transmembrane protein proton pumps on this diffusion process.
Long-range electron and energy transfer across proteins
Two of the most mysterious discoveries in this field are: 1) the ability of proteins to support ultra-long electron transfer for hundreds of micrometers; 2) the ability of proteins to support coherent energy transfer. In our lab, we develop new protein platforms that enable us to explore such processes. Unlike natural systems, we can finely tune the concentration and chemical nature of the intramolecular cofactors within the proteins, resulting in fundamental discoveries.
Students involve: Yuval Agam
Proton transfer across proteins
In addition to electrons and energy, proteins are also the main directional mediators of protons in nature. In our lab, we focus on designing new experimental tools to explore the ability of proteins and peptides to serve as proton mediators.
Students involve: Ramesh Nandi
Light-triggered control of dynamic processes
In our group, we are developing new tools to control dynamic processes by light while using photoacids and photobases. Such molecules can rapidly change the protonic concentration of their surroundings upon light absorption. We use this property to control dynamic processes, such as the self-assembly of colloids, the movement of droplets, chemical reactions, and more.
The ability of proteins to support electron transfer has also resulted in an endeavor of using proteins in molecular electronics devices, meaning measuring electron transport across a 3-5 nm electronic device comprised of the protein. In our research work, we are focusing on deciphering the nature of this electron transport and how we can modulate it.
Students involve: Yuval Toren