Nanoscience and Microsystems ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2019


Nanoscale transport using the kinesin-microtubule (MT) biomolecular system has been successfully used in a wide range of nanotechnological applications including self-assembly, nanofluidic transport, and biosensing. Most of these applications use the ‘gliding motility geometry’, in which surface-adhered kinesin motors attach and propel MT filaments across the surface, a process driven by ATP hydrolysis. It has been demonstrated that active assembly facilitated by these biomolecular motors results in complex, non-equilibrium nanostructures currently unattainable through conventional self-assembly methods. In particular, MTs functionalized with biotin assemble into rings and spools upon introduction of streptavidin and/or streptavidin-coated nanoparticles. Upon closer examination of these structures using fluorescence and electron microscopy, the structures revealed a level of irregularity including kinked and coiled domains, as well as in- and out- of -plane loops. In this work, we describe the effects of large scale “defective” segments (i.e. non-biotinylated MTs) on active assembly of nanocomposite spools. We demonstrate the preferential removal of the defective portions from spools during assembly to overcome structurally induced strain in regions that lack biotin-streptavidin bonds. Additionally, we show how the level of defective MTs affect the morphology and physical properties of the resulting nanostructures.Further, we explore alternative nanostructures for controlling transport using the kinesin-MT biomolecular system. Guiding MT transport has been achieved using lithographically patterning physical and chemical features, which have been shown to limit the MT trajectories, causing MTs to escape the barriers and lead to stalling or complete loss of MTs. Here, we demonstrate reliable guiding and transport of MTs on three different chemically modified, and structurally varying surfaces using 1) self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) with varying functional groups, 2) Fetal-bovine serum (FBS) coated SAMs to generate protein patterns, and 3) silicification of the FBS coated SAMs to preserve the surface. Overall, the work presented in this dissertation provides crucial insights for future development of dynamic and adaptable hybrid nanostructures, as well as provides biocompatible patterns to modulate MT motility with the goal of advancing self-regulating, multi-functional materials.

Document Type




Degree Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

First Committee Member (Chair)

Andrew P. Shreve

Second Committee Member

George D. Bachand

Third Committee Member

Nick J. Carroll

Fourth Committee Member

Francesca Cavallo