Research Fellows Directory
Dr Paul Lusby
University of Edinburgh
To create the complex array of devices that are used for virtually every biological process, from photosynthesis, to the transport of oxygen in the blood, Nature uses an approach in which small but functional building blocks are brought and held together in a precise three-dimensional orientation by many weak non-covalent interactions (such as hydrogen bonding). This approach, commonly referred to as self-assembly, facilitates the formation of complex systems from a finite set of bio-molecular building blocks which often possess features greater than the sum of their individual parts. Inspired by biological self assembly, synthetic chemists have been exploring the self-assembly of fully synthetic building blocks for the last 20 years of so. Like biological self-assembly, this relies on weak non-covalent interactions, most commonly hydrogen bonding or the interactions of metal ions with appropriate ligands, to create well-defined, discrete, nanoscale architectures. The potential of abiological self-assembly and self-assembled systems is vast - synthetic chemists have an almost infinite number of possible building blocks with which to explore and exploit. However, while many of the artificial assembled systems prepared to date have possessed an aesthetic appeal, many often lack the function which defines their biological counterparts. As well, the building blocks used to construct artificial self-assembled systems have by in large simply played a structural role. We have now developed a system which utilises building block which as well as play a structural role also possess the ability to harvest and manipulate light. One such self-assembled molecule we have prepared has a well-defined internal cavity, which we envisage may be used to channel light energy for synthetic applications, thereby creating artificial photosynthetic devices. We are also developing assemblies as drug delivery capsules for targeted biomedical applications.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)