The Blum group focuses on creating novel nanostructured devices and materials through self assembly. We invent new techniques for assembly and construction using proteins and virus-like particles as scaffolds to take advantage of the specificity and versatility they provide. These biotemplates give us access to a size scale that is difficult or impossible to reach using other techniques, particularly for assembly in three dimensions.
Current projects use Tobacco Mosaic Virus coat protein as a template for organizing nanoparticles to generate hybrid materials with desired properties. We use self-assembly to control the positions of nanoparticles with Angstrom-level resolution, and then characterize the optical and magnetic properties of the resulting materials. Target applications include materials with a negative index of refraction, magnetic nanoparticle-based data storage structures, and plasmonic structures that can act as waveguides, antennas, or sensors. Our research provides the basis for the advanced materials required for next-generation technologies.