The group's research directions emerge from two scientific, technological and industrial trends: the advances in semiconductor manufacturing, in particular in nanolithography - on one hand; and the remarkable engineer-isation of biology and medicine - on the other. The fusion between these two large trends led us to organise our research in three major streams, each synergistically using both experimental and computational methodologies: one focused on micro/nano-fabrication ("more moore"); one focused on the application of semiconductor technologies and devices to biology and medicine ("no moore"); and one focused on the application of the engineering principles and methodology, in particular electrical engineering and electronics, to biology and medicine ("further moore"). In other words, the group focuses on the application of engineering principles and techniques for the design, fabrication, integration and operation of bio- micro- and nano-devices.
"More moore": At the limits of micro- and nano-fabrication
We study, both from an experimental and simulation point of view, the physicochemical processes involved in micro- and nano-fabrication, and the manipulation of nano-objects. One specific area that we are interested in is the integration of self-assembly processes with the fabrication of nanostructures using micro-level fabrication techniques. The research activities under this stream will comprise, not exclusively:
- Self-assembly of micro- and nano-objects on prefabricated micro-nano-structures
- Self-organisation of materials, at the nano-level, when exposed to focused energy beams, e.g. ion or laser beams
- Nano-fabrication mediated by an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), e.g. nano-'ploughing', dip pen Litography
- Resolution limits of radiation-based lithography, e.g. double exposure and nonlinear bleaching processes in photosensitive polymers.
"No moore": Towards the functional integration of biomolecules and semiconductor devices
In this research stream, we aim to go beyond the present application of microfabricated devices, such as biosensors, bioMEMS, microarray and lab-on-a-chip devices, in many areas of biomedical research, and use a holistic approach in the biologically-informed design, fabrication and operation of bio-nano-devices. Without being comprehensive, this stream of research would compromise activities such as:
- Dynamic nano-devices using protein molecular motors hosted in microfabricated host-devices
- Fabrication of nanostructures using the natural self-assembly of biomolecules, e.g. cytoskeletal and amyloid proteins
- Nano-fabrication of surfaces that mimic the functionality of molecular surfaces of biomolecules
- Single molecule devices, e.g. DNA electronics devices and ultra sensitive detection devices.
"Further moore": The engineering of biology - at the micro, nano and info-level
We programmatically apply engineering methodology, in particular, mathematically-informed modelling and design to understand biomolecular and cellular processes, with the expectation of making biological processes more predictable and opening the possibility of 'reverse engineering' of natural biodevices and artificial or hybrid ones. An example of several activities under this stream of research:
- Engineering, design-oriented description of the interaction between biomolecules and cels and surfaces
- Engineering, design-oriented description of the nano-mechanics of molecular motors
- Study of the intelligent-like behaviour of microorganisms in microfluidic devices.
Research projects are considered in the following areas of bionanoengineering: