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.

Lab News

LaBean Research Group circa 2016

Prof. LaBean recently led a vertically integrated team (members down to high school and up to postdoc level) on a month-long research trip to Aarhus University in Denmark to work on self-assembling nanomaterials at the Center for DNA Nanotechnology and the iNANO Center.

Highlighted Publications

Armando Hernandez-Garcia, Nicole A. Estrich, Marc W. T. Werten, Johan van der Maarel, Thomas H. LaBean, Frits A. de Wolf, Martien Cohen-Stuart, Renko de Vries (2016) Precise coating of a wide range of DNA templates by a protein polymer with a DNA binding domain (in press, ACS Nano)

Abhijit Rangnekar, Jessica A. Nash, Bethany Goodfred, Yaroslava G. Yingling, Thomas H. LaBean (2016) Design of potent and controllable anticoagulants using DNA aptamers and nanostructures, Molecules 21, 202 (doi:10.3390/molecules21020202).

Urmi Majumder, Sudhanshu Garg, Thomas H. LaBean, and John H. Reif (2015) Activatable Tiles for Compact Robust Programmable Molecular Assembly and Other Applications, Natural Computing (doi:10 .1007/s11047-015-9532-3).

Ronnie O. Pedersen, Jing Kong, Catalina Achim and Thomas H. LaBean (2015) Comparative Incorporation of PNA into DNA Nanostructures, Molecules 20, 17645-17658 (doi:10 .3390/molecules200917645
) .

Stanley Brown, Jacob Majikes, Amanda Martínez Reyes, Tania Montserrat Girón, Hannah Fennell, Enrique C. Samano, Thomas H. LaBean (2015) An Easy-to-Prepare Mini-Scaffold for DNA Origami, Nanoscale 7, 16621-16624 (doi: 10.1039/C5NR04921K).

Bramaramba Gnapareddy, Sang Jung Ahn, Sreekantha Reddy Dugasani, Jang Ah Kim, Rashid Amin, Sekhar Babu Mitta, Srivithya Vellampatti, Byeonghoon Kim, Atul Kulkarni, Taesung Kim, Kyusik Yun, Thomas H. LaBean, and Sung Ha Park (2015) Coverage Percentage and Raman Measurement of DNA Cross-tile and Scaffold Cross-tile based Nanostructures, Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 135, 677-681 (doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2015.08.013).

R. Campos, S. Zhang, J. M. Majikes, L. C. C. Ferraz, T. H. LaBean, M. D. Dong and E. E. Ferapontova (2015) Electronically addressable nanomechanical switching of I-motif DNA origami assembled on basal plane HOPG, Chemical Communications 51, 14111-14114 (doi: 10 .1039/c5cc04678e).

Sudhanshu Garg, Harish Chandran, Nikhil Gopalkrishnan, Thomas H. LaBean, and John Reif (2015) Directed Enzymatic Activation of 1‐D DNA Tiles, ACS Nano 9, 1072-1079.

Alexandria N. Marchi, Ishtiaq Saaem, Briana N. Vogen, Stanley Brown, and Thomas H. LaBean (2014) Toward larger DNA origami, Nano Letters 14, 5740–5747 (doi: 10 .1021/nl502626s).

Abhijit Rangnekar and Thomas H. LaBean (2014) Building DNA Nanostructures for Molecular Computation, Templated Assembly, and Biological Applications, Accounts of Chemical Research 47, 1778−1788 (doi:10.1021/ar500023b).

M. Pilo-Pais, A. Watson, S. Demers, T. H. LaBean, and G. Finkelstein (2014) Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Plasmonic Enhancement Using DNA Origami-Based Complex Metallic Nanostructures
, Nano Letters 14, 2099-2104.

Xiaolong Shi, Wei Lu, Zhiyu Wang, Linqiang Pan, Guangzhao Cui, Jin Xu, and Thomas H LaBean (2014) Programmable DNA tile self-assembly using a hierarchical sub-tile strategy, Nanotechnology 25, 075602.

Ronnie O. Pedersen, Elizabeth Loboa, and Thomas H. LaBean (2013) Sensitization of Transforming Growth Factor-β Signaling by Multiple Peptides Patterned on DNA Nanostructures, Biomacromolecules 14, 4157−4160.

Lauren Hakker, Alexandria N. Marchi, Kimberly A. Harris, Thomas H. LaBean, and Paul F. Agris (2013) Structural and Thermodynamic Analysis of Modified Nucleosides in self-assembled DNA Cross-Tiles, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics,

Ishtiaq Saaem and Thomas H. LaBean (2013) Overview of DNA Origami for Molecular Self-Assembly, WIREs Nanomedicine & Nanobiotechnology 5, 150-162.

Alexandria N. Marchi, Ishtiaq Saaem, Jingdong Tian, Thomas H. LaBean (2013) One-Pot Assembly of a Hetero-dimeric DNA Origami from Chip-Derived Staples and Double-Stranded Scaffold, ACS ,Nano 7, 903-910 (doi:10.1021/nn302322j).

Group Members

24 Group Members.

Principal Investigator

High School Students

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