Bio Inspired Approaches to Molecular Machines

  • Ted Kaehler reviews the current state of protein assembly, starting with antifreeze protein beta sheets from a beetle. These segments attach noncovalently and assemble into strands. Adding just one block to an assembly is a challenge, currently the ideas are either to have different faces for each block or to have specific caps that have different methods of removal.
  • Assembling machines with molecular precision is the focus of Alexander Lipperts research. He is focused on developing nanobots for biological applications. Their main approach is to use light to activate structures for chemical bonding.
  • Victor Lopez is using light-activated molecular motors to disrupt cell membranes and kill harmful cells in the body. These motors are Cancer cells are the current target, but there are applications such as mechanotransduction, biomaterials, and movement.


  • Kaehler : Adding just one block to a structure – achieving rapid, controlled assembly means figuring out how to add just a single block to a structure (to build organized complexity) while also having multiple growth fronts (for speed)
  • Lipperts : Making a nanobot requires molecularly precise chemistry – one potential method is to use a combination of photochemistry and photodiagnostics
  • Lopez : In-vivo studies of light-activated molecular motors
  • Sen : Next generation of motors – motors with memory, motors that are able to respond to the environment