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Prof. Park Chan-beum's team uses peptide self-assembly tech, publishes study in international journal
A team of Korean researchers has developed conducting polymer nanowire and nanotube material that employ natural peptide self-assembly technology.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (President Suh Nam-pyo) said on June 15 that a team led by Prof. Park Chan-beum at KAIST's department of materials science and researcher Ryu Jung-ki had published their study on the development of conducting polymer nanowire and nanotube material in Angewandte Chemie, a world-renowned chemistry journal.
Peptides or proteins can create three-dimensional structures through the combination of some 20 amino acids. Such structures have the advantage of outstanding physical characters and diverse functions, which were not available in the original materials.
The research team allowed tens of thousands of very simple peptides comprising two amino acids to align on their own to successfully form a long nanowire one one-thousandth the thickness of a single hair. They then coated the structure with polyaniline, a conducting polymer material, to create a Vertically Well-Aligned conducting Nanowire.
Unlike common electric wires, the Vertically Well-Aligned nanowire only conducts electricity on its surface. Prof. Park's team then selectively removed the peptide core section of the conducting nanowire to produce a conducting nanotube consisting purely of polyaniline.
Creating three-dimensional structures through the self-assembly of chemical substances, a process not unlike building with Lego blocks, not only constitutes a fundamental mechanism within all different biological phenomena, but is also widely sought after as one of the key technologies for producing nanomaterials.
Notably, since the peptide the research team used in the study originated from amyloid plaque in a fabric structure, which is closely related with the development of degenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, the study of the self-assembly of peptides is highly important from a medical perspective as well.
If conducting polymer is produced into a nano-sized structure, its electric characteristic is significantly enhanced. Hence, the newly developed conducting nanowire and nanotube will likely find applications in the development of various next-generation solar cells, sensors and chips, and are expected to help boost Korea's science and technology competitiveness in the areas of nano-bio fusion in the future.
Meanwhile, experts say the newly developed technology has already made important contributions to the development of nanomaterials through the creative fusion of nanotechnology and bioscience.
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) is a multi-disciplinary research institute located in Seoul, South Korea. Founded in 1966, it was the first multi-disciplinary scientific research institute in Korea and has contributed significantly to the economic development of the country, particularly during the years of accelerated growth in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It has a research staff of over 400 scientists involved in basic research in six research divisions.
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