CBES Investigators

Chad Mirkin

Haixin Lin

Postdoctoral Fellow
Chemistry

Devleena Samanta

Postdoctoral Fellow
Chemistry

Cindy Zheng

Graduate Student
Chemistry

Jinghan Zhu

Graduate Student
Materials Science and Engineering

Research Overview

The Mirkin group is interested in bio-inspired, ordered materials prepared via crystal engineering with DNA with capabilities for plasmon-enhanced photocatalysis. Recently, the Mirkin group discovered the clathrate lattice, the most structurally complex nanoparticle-based material to date. The cages in natural clathrates are formed when molecular or atomic nodes adopt discrete bond angles between 100° and 125°. To assemble the nanoparticle analog, oblate trigonal bipyramids were identified as ideal building blocks as they promote the formation of DNA bonds with a ~110° bond angle. The cavities in the clathrate crystals have potential for host-guest recognition applications as well as catalysis. Mirkin will explore the cavities of these clathrate as candidates for photocatalysis of water splitting, CO2 reduction, and N2 fixation.  In these structures, the sharp tips of the DNA-functionalized Au bipyramids are directed into cavities with sizes on the order of visible light wavelengths. The cavities interact strongly with light and induce an electromagnetic field inside the voids, which will promote charge-separated states that are critical for photocatalysis.