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Controlling molecules as they bind to surfaces

NSF Award:

Transforming Kentucky's New Economy  (University of Kentucky Research Foundation)

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Anyone who's ever seen a dry sponge in water is familiar with absorption, but adsorption is a completely different scientific principle. Adsorption is the study of how molecules bind to surfaces. Adsorption, present in many natural systems, has many industrial applications. Understanding the mechanics of adsorption at the molecular level will help to refine existing industrial applications and open up doors to new ones.

Researchers in Sergio Mendes' lab at the University of Louisville are using optical waveguides, devices that guide visible light, to capture and measure the adsorption of almost any molecule in real time.  

The adsorption of biomolecules onto material surfaces plays a crucial role in nature because it can impact biomolecular function. Measuring the compatibility between synthetic materials and biological molecules has many applications. For example, adsorption research offers insight into the human body's acceptance of implants or how a protein binds to a cell's receptors. Adsorption technologies may also open the door to new methods for high-throughput screening of pharmaceutical drugs, quick diagnosis of infections or determining sources of food contamination. 

This research is sponsored in part by NSF's Kentucky Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Images (1 of )

  • an sem photograph of an integrated grating coupler
  • a device used to guide light in an out of an optical waveguide
An SEM photograph of an integrated grating coupler.
Sergio Mendes, University of Louisville
This device couples light in and out of an integrated optical waveguide used to study molecules as they bind to surfaces.
Sergio Mendes, University of Louisville

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