In the News
Scientific American featured appetite-suppressing research by Rob Doyle (chemistry).
America Magazine profiled Mary Karr, Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature (Creative Writing)
The Chronicle of Higher Education featured an op-ed piece by David Yaffe (English) on 20th-century American poetry
A Success magazine feature on primatologist Jane Goodall extensively quotes Dean Emerita Cathryn R. Newton.
Syracuse University researchers use nanotechnology to harness the power of fireflies
New research recently published in Nano Letters
It’s all about the size and structure of the custom, quantum nanorods, which are produced in the laboratory by Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Rebeka Alam, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Maye is also a member of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute.
“Firefly light is one of nature’s best examples of bioluminescence,” Maye says. “The light is extremely bright and efficient. We’ve found a new way to harness biology for non-biological applications by manipulating the interface between the biological and non-biological components.”
Their work, “Designing Quantum Rods for Optimized Energy Transfer with Firefly Luciferase Enzymes,” was published online May 23 in Nano Letters and is forthcoming in print. Nano Letters is a premier journal of the American Chemical Society and one of the highest rated journals in the nanoscience field. Collaborating on the research were Professor Bruce Branchini and Danielle Fontaine, both from Connecticut College.
Fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction between luciferin and it’s counterpart, the enzyme luciferase. In Maye’s laboratory, the enzyme is attached to the nanorod’s surface; luciferin, which is added later, serves as the fuel. The energy that is released when the fuel and the enzyme interact is transferred to the nanorods, causing them to glow. The process is called Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET).
“The trick to increasing the efficiency of the system is to decrease the distance between the enzyme and the surface of the rod and to optimize the rod’s architecture,” Maye says. “We designed a way to chemically attach, genetically manipulated luciferase enzymes directly to the surface of the nanorod.” Maye’s collaborators at Connecticut College provided the genetically manipulated luciferase enzyme.
Maye’s and Alam’s firefly-conjugated nanorods currently exist only in their chemistry laboratory. Additional research is ongoing to develop methods of sustaining the chemical reaction—and energy transfer—for longer periods of time and to “scale-up” the system. Maye believes the system holds the most promise for future technologies that that will convert chemical energy directly to light; however, the idea of glowing nanorods substituting for LED lights is not the stuff of science fiction.
“The nanorods are made of the same materials used in computer chips, solar panels, and LED lights,” Maye says. “It’s conceivable that someday firefly-coated nanorods could be inserted into LED-type lights that you don’t have to plug in.”
Maye’s research was funded by a Department of Defense PECASE award sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The AFOSR and the National Science Foundation supported the work performed by Maye’s collaborators at Connecticut College.
March 20, 2014 at 3:45 PM
Physics Building Room 202/204
Presents Matt Holden, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, "Caught In The Act: Direct Measurement Of Protein Translocation Across Membranes Using Droplet Interface Bilayers"------------------------
- Chemistry Colloquia
April 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM
- Nonfiction Reading Series: Student Writers
April 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM
- Arts and Sciences Events
AS Magazine, Fall 2012