Skip to content


Bioinspired Supramolecular Chemistry

Our research aims to leverage the noncovalent bond and exploit the potential of supramolecular chemistry as a synthetic discipline to enable life-like structures and materials that cannot be made through current means.

Natural systems rely on materials with dynamic, transient structures that often lie far from equilibrium. These materials are scaffolded by noncovalent interactions, which allow living systems to exhibit complex functions such as growth, communication, and repair. Our research takes inspiration from these natural noncovalent assemblies to design novel synthetic structures that can mimic, augment, and even replace natural systems. These materials are directed towards applications across human health, energy, and the environment, guided by the questions below.

Supramolecular Chaperones

Cells rely on chaperones to marshal amino acid chains through the complex folding process and prevent the misfolding of proteins that can lead to toxic aggregates. Natural chaperones refold a wide range of proteins, but their lack of substrate specificity renders them inefficient. How do we design modular synthetic chaperones that surpass the specificity of Nature?

Hierarchical Fibrous Materials

Biological materials such as the extracellular matrix exploit structural complexity to remodel their chemical and physical properties with spatiotemporal control. Such complexity is achieved via the hierarchical organization of building blocks whose assembly pathway is encoded by multiple noncovalent interactions. How do we encode synthetic building blocks with the assembly information needed to make biomimetic materials of similar complexity?

Dissipative Protein Assembly

Functions in living systems, such as tubulin-related cell motility, do not operate at equilibrium. Instead, energy must be constantly dissipated to perform mechanical work. In contrast, traditional materials synthesis almost exclusively targets equilibrium structures. How do we reprogram natural building blocks to undergo dissipative assembly?

Return to the top of the page