Biopolymer Engineering

We use biopolymers, especially DNA and proteins, as programmable building blocks with which to create self-assembling, molecular materials. Making use of the same molecular recognition principles used in biology to construct living tissue, we design, synthesize, and test artificial materials with micrometer-scale dimensions and nanometer-scale feature resolution. This research has evolved from the areas of structural DNA nanotechnology and protein engineering.

Biomimetic Nanofabrication

Conventional processes for fabrication of electronics and photonics devices made from hard matter (metals, oxides, semiconductors) are approaching intrinsic scaling limits. To push the dimensions of these devices down into the low nanometer range, we are developing soft matter processes for applications in nanofabrication. We are developing bimolecular self-assemblies to template, functionalize, and organize inorganic, functional materials for programmable, artificial biomineralization.

Bionanotech for Medicine

We are also developing medical applications for our bionanotechnology materials and methods. We have created enzyme inhibitors for use as anticoagulants, as well as metabolic activators for targeted thrombolysis. An ongoing project is aimed at the programmed activation of cell surface receptor clustering for controlling the developmental fate of particular cells.

Highlighted Publications


Samano, E.C., M. Pilo-Pais, S. Goldberg, B.N. Vogen, Finkelstein, G. and LaBean, T.H. 2011. Selfassembling DNA templates for programmed artificial biomineralization. Soft Matter 7:3240-45.

Pilo-Pais, M., Goldberg, S., Samano, E., LaBean, T., Finkelstein, G. 2011. Connecting the Nanodots: Programmable Nanofabrication of Fused Metal Shapes on DNA Templates. Nano Letters, 11:3489-3492.

Coskun, U., Mebrahtu, H., Huang, P., Huang, J., Biasco, A. Makarovski, A. Lazarides, T. LaBean, T. and Finkelstein, G. 2008. Single-Electron Transistors made by chemical patterning of silicon dioxide substrates and selective deposition of gold nanoparticles, Applied Physics Letters 93:123101.

Park, S-H., Prior, M.W., LaBean, T.H. and Finkelstein, G. 2006. Optimized fabrication and electrical analysis of silver nanowires templated on DNA molecules. Applied Physics Letters 89:033901.

Park, S-H., Barish, R., Li, H., Reif , J.H., Finkelstein, G., Yan, H. and LaBean, T.H. 2005. Three-Helix Bundle DNA Tiles Self-assemble into 2D Lattice or 1D Templates for Silver Nanowires. Nano Letters 5, 693-696.

Carter, J.D. and T.H. LaBean. 2011. Organization of Inorganic Nanomaterials via Programmable DNA Self-Assembly and Peptide Molecular Recognition. ACS Nano 5:2200-05.

Li, H.Y., J.D. Carter, and T.H. LaBean. 2009. Nanofabrication by DNA self-assembly. Materials Today 12(5):20-28.

Yin, P., R. Hariadi, S. Sahu, H.M.T. Choi, S.-H. Park, T.H. LaBean, and J.H. Reif. 2008. Programming Molecular Tube Circumferences. Science 321:824-26.

Liu, D., S.-H. Park, J.H. Reif, and T.H. LaBean. 2004. DNA nanotubes self-assembled from TX tiles as templates for conductive nanowires. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., USA 101:717-22.

Yan, H., S.H. Park, G. Finkelstein, J.H. Reif, and T.H. LaBean. 2003. DNA-Templated Self-Assembly of Protein Arrays and Highly Conductive Nanowires. Science 301:1882-84.

Group Members

15 Group Members.

Principal Investigator

Contact Information

Thom LaBean:

Mailing Address:

  • North Carolina State University
  • 911 Partners Way
  • EB I, Room 3002
  • Campus Box 7907
  • Raleigh, NC 27695-7907

Staff/Student Office: EB I Room 3035, 919-515-1278

Wet Lab: EB I Room 3044