Welcome to Meeting Scene

In the upcoming days, Science Writers and Guest Bloggers will post news and comments from the 2015 Materials Research Society Fall Meeting. These will include reports on Chad Mirkin’s Plenary presentation on “Programmable Materials and the Nature of the DNA Bond,” and the award presentations, including the talk by Richard H. Friend who is this year’s Von Hippel Award recipient. Highlights from the technical sessions will be reported here as well as personal impressions from this year’s Guest Bloggers.     

polymers for stem cell differentiation

Jen Martinez spoke in session KK about her work on genetic engineering of polymers to control stem cell differentiation. The goal is to make scalable, printable, libraries of genetically engineered polymers to overcome the limitations of synthetic polymers: lack of stereo- and regio- selectivity, polydispersity, and lack of specific binding sites.

Her work on phage display techniques differs from current synthetic combinatorial chemistry, in its speed, monodisperse products, and wider variety of products (10^8 combinations). Yeast sorting allows a very quick winnowing of the options. She has thus been able to synthesize and identify particular polymers that have unique, targeted abilities to differentiate stem cells with no other external stimuli. Very beautiful work!

MD simulations of Chlorotoxin stability

Peng Li spoke in session KK about his work on stability of chlorotoxin, a toxin purified from scorpion venom, which may have applications as an anticancer polypeptide. Peng's knowledge will contribute to the design parameters for novel chlorotoxin delivery mechanisms. Specifically, he found that increasing concentrations make the molecule less stable but more compact. The molecule was found to be most stable at 300K. Very interesting work.

electrochemistry of modified DNA monolayers

In KK, Amir Mazaheripour spoke about electrochemistry of monolayers of DNA that had been modified worth a surrogate perlyene base. This work has broad applications for development of the next generation of organic electronics as well as the rational design of biocompatible bio sensors. The synthesis yield is higher than that of current state of the art redox probes, and their synthesis technique offers the potential for tuneable control of the electrical properties. Bravo!

peptide SAMs on gold NPs

Elena Colangelo spoke today in GG about her work on whether the curvature of gold NPs will affect the conformation of adsorbed proteins. This is an important topic, with wide ranging applications from drug delivery to energy. She found that more highly curved NPs inhibit hydrogen bonding, decreasing the amount of beta sheet secondary structures. This work will help to inform future investigations seeking to modify nanoparticles with functional ligands. Thanks!

Poster session: saving the best for last

Tonight's poster session, though smaller than the other nights, is a great showing. There is still time to check it out! Many of the posters in session HH are revolutionary-- showing polymers that self-assemble, control the assembly of inorganic nanoparticles, and even fluoresce in response to stimuli. 

After the session, get some sleep because there is a full day ahead, with particularly exciting Friday line-ups in TT, related to energy and in KK related to nanomaterials in medicine.

For many people the MRS Spring Meeting came to an end… Not for me, tomorrow is TheBigDay with my first talk at a big conference.

Wish me luck!

My last post with some impressions of the conference will be tomorrow.

Carlo Montemagno’s talk

What an inspiring talk!

On the last slide of his talk, Michelangelo’s quote: The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it

He gave an overview of the cutting-edge projects (in the general areas of environment, health and energy) going on in his lab, IngenuityLab.

The project that fascinated me the most is the 4D Printer, where the fourth dimension is intended to be the functionality of the complex system built up by single molecules. The general concept is the precise assemble of the functional building blocks found in nature to give new functionalities to the system, where these functionalities are meant to address issues regarding energy, environment and human health.

It may sound too futuristic, but would you ever have imagined having your smartphone, as it looks like today, 10 years ago?

Neelkanth Bardhan’s talk

I had the pleasure to listen to Neelkanth Bardhan’s talk, Gold MRS graduate student awardee, at Symposium GG.

First, I want to say that I found his presentation very clear and easy to follow, nice layout of the slides.

He first went through the motivation of his work: there is the clinical need of safer (compared to X-rays) and less expensive (compared to MRI) detection technologies. He then presented his work aiming to answer this need: developing a biologically-templated nanomolecular probe for high-resolution in vivo sensing and detection. His modular probe is constituted of M13 virus coating single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). To this construct desired fluorescent dyes and specific targeting ligands can be attached. His results in vivo have shown how this probe is able to target tumours and can be used during real-time surgical intervention.

More details on his work and successful applications of this probe can be found here.