Soiree

TYC@Imperial: Coarse-Grained Theory and Simulation of Soft Matter Systems in Biology

Professor Alfredo Alexander-Katz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr Stefano Angioletti-Uberti, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

Thursday 22nd March 2018
Time: 4pm
Venue: Room G01, Royal School of Mines
Contact: Ms Hafiza Bibi
Tel: 02075947252

Title: The Beauty of Simplicity: coarse-graining and the modelling of nanoparticles

Dr Stefano Angioletti-Uberti, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

Abstract: Due to their small size and the relevance of quantum effects at their length-scale, it is often thought that modelling of nanoparticles must require use of electronic structure techniques, e.g. DFT, to properly understand their behaviour. In this talk, we will argue that this is often not the case. For many nature-inspired applications of nanoparticles, ranging from the self-assembly of ordered structures to nano-medicine, such accurate techniques are in fact not just useless, but even detrimental to a true understanding of the physics determining their properties. In contrast, coarse-grained models can help us gain such knowledge, in a way that is also more easily connected to the needs of experimentalists. We will back up this thesis by providing a few examples and discuss what type of questions can be asked, and which instead should not, when we take a coarse-grained approach to this system.

 

Title: The Nano-Bio World: Lessons from In-Silico Experiments

Professor Alfredo Alexander-Katz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

NanoBio interactions lie at the core of biological function and their understanding promises to bring major advances in different areas such as healthcare and the environment. It is also strongly believed that such an understanding will allow the design of new synthetic platforms able to reproduce or interface with biological systems in a seamless way. In this talk I will present our work on the interaction of nanoparticles with biological membranes. Emphasis will be placed on the important discoveries that we have come across from performing multiscale simulations of such nanomaterials. In particular, I will present our work on understanding how nano particles interact with lipid bilayers, and how a recently discovered  class of nano particles is able to translocate across bilayers without disrupting the membrane. Such nanoparticles essentially behave as “nano chamaleons” altering on-the-fly their surface chemistry to mimic that of the membrane and fuse with it. The origins of such behavior, as well as the fusion pathway by which such nanoparticles enter cells will be presented. Of particular interest along this fusion process is the discovery of a new pathway to translocate charge across the membrane in a timescale of seconds, not hours. Furthermore,  we have also discovered that these nanoparticles can mimic several different functions performed by membrane proteins such as fusion proteins and signaling proteins, opening new possibilities in delivering drugs, as well as serving as “artificial membrane proteins” themselves. To finalize I will give a perspective on exciting new avenues of research in this area. 

 

6yBGvF_web.jpg

Follow @tyc_london for updates from the Thomas Young Centre.