PLUS Lab builds multidisciplinary research programs focusing on the development of novel nanomaterials and design & assembly of the materials to create influential applications that bridging gap between materials and the world.

Novel Materials

Chiral Nanomaterials,
Biomimetic Nanomaterials, etc

New Design &

Atomic, Nano, and Macro Design,
1D, 2D, and 3D Design,
Self-assembly and composite, etc

Impactful Applications

Novel Spectroscopic Platforms,
Ultra-sensitive and fast Biosensors,
Nanomedicines, etc

I. Semiconductor platforms for Big Data

We are living in a ‘smart’ generation, and our daily lives are being transformed by new technologies. In contrast to electronics such as smartphones and smart televisions, biotechnologies using smart materials such as at-home diagnostics, personalized medications, and early disease detection remain a challenge. We bridge this gap between innovation and fundamental science by developing next-generation semiconductor platforms using novel nanoscience and nanostructures.

PLUS Lab is to develop next-generation platforms utilizing semiconductor technology that generate Big Data of health-related biomolecules. These platforms provide data sources for A.I. or machine learning that open a door to ‘smart’ health care systems. To achieve the goal, we study semiconducting technology and then apply it to design proper platforms depending on the applications. Once developed, it could be used to overcome the current limitations of selective and sensitive biomolecular recognition (such as ultrafast and sensitive COVID-19 detection), imaging, and analysis.

II. Next generation bio-detection platforms

Early diagnosis can alleviate the suffering and lower mortality rates from degenerative diseases such as cancer, enable treatment before destructive structural changes occur for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 virus. Detection of blood-based biomarkers via liquid biopsy is time- and cost-efficient and a relatively non-invasive diagnostic technology offering increased patient accessibility. The simplest and most common technique is ELISA, a powerful tool for the detection of biomarkers. However, ELISA requires multiple steps of sample treatments that are time- and labor-consuming, and its detection limit is only ~picogram/mL when it must be attogram/mL to detect the trace amount of biomarkers in the blood released from tumors less than 1 mm, for example. This low sensitivity often yields inconsistent results even with only minor variations in protein expression or experimental protocol.

PLUS Lab develops new platforms that overcome these limitations using chiral nanostructures. This project will make tremendous impact not only in early disease diagnostics but also in numerous other bio-related research including metabolism, immunology, and pharmaceutics. By watching processes that have been invisible, this project will initiate new biochemistry and create Big Data.

III. Chiral nano-platforms for nanomedicines

Two basic requirements that new materials should satisfy to be efficient nanomedicines are (1) resistance against enzymatic digestion or immune reactions to ensure sufficient blood circulation and (2) efficient adhesion to biological surfaces such as tough tumor cellular membranes. These are common limitations of conventional systems; for example, PEGylated liposomes have shown loss of their long circulation and subsequent clearance from the blood with repeated injection. It is the so-called “accelerated blood clearance” phenomenon that occurs due to the immune process. Even though the liposomes successfully travel to a targeted organ such as the liver, the drug delivery efficiency to tumor cells is significantly low. Chiral engineering to achieve D-amino acid-mediated control over physiological reactions of nanomedicine will overcome these limitations. It is known that incorporating D-amino acids to alter protein conformation through racemization has protective effects against enzymatic digestion while maintaining the functionality of the protein. It is expected that control over physiological properties of systems using chiral engineering will be effective not only with proteins but also with nanomedicines.

Based on that, PLUS Lab develops “chiral nano-paint” that can coat nanostructures to improve efficiency of nanomedicine. This project pioneers the importance of chirality suggesting a new level of control of biomaterials.

IV. Mapping the biomagnetic code

All living cells have ionic currents generating biomagnetic fields. Manipulating these biomagnetic fields to change cellular machinery is a next-generation clinical technique. Magnetic stimulation has many advantages including wireless interactions with organs, penetration of electrically insulating skulls, and easy control over strength and gradient. The magnetic field effects on living cell machinery have been widely studied, including the effects on cell proliferation, ion-channel switching, and forced migration of membrane proteins. These studies have shown promising results using magnetic fields for degenerative disease treatments, control of stem cell differentiation, and levitation of cells and tissues. However, these studies have also raised many questions, which need to be answered for development of clinical techniques. Does the magnetic field affect the whole cell or specific organelles? How strong is the biomagnetic field naturally generated by each organelle? Does the external magnetic field compete with intracellular forces? How can we visualize real-time changes of biomagnetic fields?  It is very challenging to answer these questions using current techniques that are based on SQUID, which cannot detect subcellular magnetic gradients and propagation directions.

PLUS Lab answers these questions by developing new atomic-chiral magnetic nanomaterials that can monitor the real-time changes of biomagnetic fields at the subcellular level.

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