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CBES: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science


Read the most recent Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES) news below, and subscribe to our newsletters to stay informed about what is happening at CBES. Stories from previous years are available in our News Archive.

Making material advancements at the nanoscale

October 5, 2023

In an interdisciplinary collaboration supported by CBES, researchers led by Horacio Espinosa and Chad Mirkin explored how nanoscale materials can be organized into macroscopic structures that exhibit properties that exceed those of conventional bulk materials and those exhibited by natural systems. They implemented a novel approach to design and assemble nanoscale materials using colloidal crystal engineering with DNA, which provides precise control over the arrangement of nanoparticles and enables the creation of complex lattice structures.

Encoding autonomy in a photo- and electroactive hydrogel

September 7, 2023

Nature Reviews Materials published a research highlight of CBES-supported work on autonomously functioning photo- and electroactive hydrogels for soft robotic applications. The hydrogels developed in CBES director Samuel Stupp’s laboratory can capture and deliver cargo, avoid obstacles, and return to their original positions — all without external, stepwise control.

This research was originally published in Science Advances.

Schatz wins Award for Extraordinary Impact in Physical Chemistry

February 20, 2023

CBES investigator George Schatz has received the 2023 Marsha I. Lester Award for Extraordinary Impact in Physical Chemistry, an honor given by the Physical Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. Schatz was recognized “for broad-ranging contributions to leadership in physical chemistry, and to advances in reaction dynamics, plasmonics, self-assembly of soft materials, and other fields.”

DNA-interconnected crystals bounce back to original shape

DNA gives colloidal crystals shape-shifting and memory abilities

November 8, 2022
CBES researchers led by Chad Mirkin and Sharon Glotzer have uncovered a previously unknown property of colloidal crystals, highly ordered three-dimensional arrays of nanoparticles. The team engineered colloidal crystals with complementary strands of DNA and found that dehydration crumpled the crystals, breaking down the DNA hydrogen bonds. But when researchers added water, the crystals bounced back to their original state within seconds.
Danna Freedman

Freedman receives MacArthur Fellowship

October 14, 2022
CBES senior investigator Danna Freedman has been named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow for “creating novel molecular materials with unique properties directly relevant to quantum information science,” the MacArthur Foundation announced. Each MacArthur Fellow will receive a grant of $800,000 over five years.

Photosynthesis-inspired process makes commodity chemicals

June 9, 2022

CBES researchers have taken inspiration from plants to revolutionize the way an important industrial chemical is made. In a first for the field, the team used light and water to convert acetylene into ethylene, a widely used, highly valuable chemical that is a key ingredient in plastics.

While this conversion typically requires high temperatures and pressures, flammable hydrogen and expensive metals to drive the reaction, the new photosynthesis-like process is much less expensive, less energy intensive and has a greater selectivity for ethylene. CBES senior investigator Emily Weiss was the corresponding author of the paper and CBES director Samuel Stupp was a coauthor.  

Whitesides wins Kavli Prize in Nanoscience

June 3, 2022

CBES senior investigator George Whitesides has received the 2022 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience along with Jacob Sagiv, Ralph Nuzzo and David Allara for their work on self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on solid substrates, “which enable unprecedented control and engineering of surface properties,” according to the award committee.

“Their work transformed surface science and has led to applications shaping our daily lives in areas from medical diagnostics to semiconductor devices,” the committee wrote. Whitesides was specifically recognized “for leading the development of multiple applications and innovations of SAMs, in particular the invention of patterning of, with and using SAMs.”

Nanostructures break away from symmetrical designs

January 25, 2022

In work led by CBES senior investigators Chad Mirkin and Sharon Glotzer, researchers demonstrated how complex crystals that mimic metals can be achieved with a new approach to guiding nanoparticle self-assembly.

Rather than just nanoparticles that serve as “atom equivalents,” the colloidal crystals produced by the team rely on even smaller particles that simulate electrons. The research yielded three complex, low-symmetry structures, including one called a triple double-gyroid that has no known natural equivalent.