Packaging School Seminar Series - Physical Biology at the Semiconductor-enabled Subcellular Interfaces

November 3, 2020 1:30PM - 2:30PM

Physical Biology at the Semiconductor-enabled Subcellular Interfaces

Bozhi Tian
University of Chicago

Biointerface devices can probe fundamental biological dynamics and improve the lives of human beings. However, the direct application of traditional rigid electronics onto soft tissues or cells can cause signal transduction and biocompatibility issues, due to mechanical mismatch at the biointerfaces. One common mitigation strategy is the use of nanostructures or soft-hard composites to form more biocompatible interfaces with target cells or tissues. My group integrates nanoscience and soft matter physics with biophysics to study several semiconductor-based biointerfaces. In this talk, I will first pinpoint domains where semiconductor properties can be leveraged for biointerface studies, providing a sample of numbers in semiconductor-based biointerfaces. Next, I will present a few recent studies from our lab and highlight key bioelectrical mechanisms underlying the non-genetic optical modulation interfaces. In particular, I will present a biology-guided two-step design principle for establishing tight intra-, inter-, and extracellular silicon-based bioelectrical interfaces in which semiconductors and the biological targets have matched mechanical properties and efficient signal transduction. Research in my lab has revealed how the physicochemical outputs from the photothermal, photofaradic, and photocapacitive effects of nanostructured semiconductors can be identified, quantified, and utilized at semiconductor-based biointerfaces to modulate electrical activities in neurons, cardiomyocytes and bacterial cells. The non-genetic and free-standing materials-based methods have the potential to overcome the limitations of current metal electrode-based devices such as bulk and cell membrane disruption, and are not dependent on genetic modifications. Finally, I will discuss new tissue-like materials and other biological targets that could catalyze future advances.


Dr. Bozhi Tian received the Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 2010. He then did his postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. As an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at the University of Chicago, his research focuses on the semiconductor-enabled understanding of subcellular biophysics, as well as studies of dynamics at soft-hard interfaces. Dr. Tian's accolades during his independent career include Inaugural ETH Materials Research Prize for Young Investigators (2017), C&EN's Talented 12 (2017), Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2016), and TR35 honoree (2012).


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