Millennium Nucleus in

Research for a responsible development of nanotechnology

Carbon Nanotubes
Hv1 proton channel
Amino acids CBN interactions
Voltage sensing modulation


Responsible development of nanotechnology requires understanding nano-bio interactions at a fundamental level. Our research team combines materials science, molecular simulation and biophysics with an emphasis on statistical mechanics, quantitative experiments and simulation. We study nanoscale systems, in particular, the interaction between nanoparticles, membrane channels, small polar solvents and proteins. The overall goal of N2BP is to understand how structure and function emerge in nano-confined geometries, unravel the nanobio interaction and its effects on membrane channels.

Who we are?

To achieve the above, a cross-cutting group of scientists and the synergy of facilities and universities are needed. From the Universidad de Valparaíso, the director of the core, Dr. José Gárate, is an expert in molecular simulation and computational thermodynamics, Dr. Eduardo Berríos is a computational chemist and expert in quantum chemistry, and Dr. Carlos González is a world leader in ion channel biophysics. From the Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana, the alternate director, Dra. Natalia Hassan, has extensive experience in nanobio interactions and nanomedicine. From Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Dra. Valeria del Campo, an experimental physicist, is dedicated to nanotechnology and materials science.

In addition to the principal investigators, our team includes 2 post-docs and undergraduate and graduate students from different programs. Their research at N2BP not only trains them as experts in their fields, but also allows them to develop multidisciplinary research, which is essential for solving complex problems.


What do we do?

The Core in NanoBioPhysics is divided into 2 areas: A. Nano-confinement and B. Nano-Bio interactions. Nano-Bio interactions. Within the area of Nanoconfinement the research topics are: 1) Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as simple theoretical models of nanoconfinement; 2) Aquaporin gating currents (AQP) as an experimental measure of nanoconfinement and 3) Coupling between gating currents, proton transport and water fluxes in the Hv1 proton channel. The area of Nano-Bio interactions aims to understand 1) Interaction between amino acids and carbon nanostructures (CBNs) and 2) Effects of CBNs on voltage sensors.

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Structure affects functionality. In the case of polymers, such as proteins, they adopt the configuration that minimizes free energy. Small solvents, on the other hand, present a local and dynamic structure but their nanoconfinementleads to the correlation and structuring of these small molecules. On the other hand, membrane channels are specialized proteins that provide a corridor through which ___ cross the cell membrane. In these channels, the relationship between confinement, structure and function has not been sufficiently explored given the experimental difficulties and we will study in particular the functional role of polar solvent nanoconfinement.

Taking advantage of the capabilities of N2BP we will study carbon nanostructures as potential modulators of membrane channels. Proteins are physisorbed into carbon structures, which can interfere with their conformation and function. Therefore, we will study the bonds between nanostructures and the amino groups that make up proteins.

How do we do it?

We will determine the thermodynamics of nanoconfinement using carbon nanotubes as simple models of extreme confinement. Then, this concept will be explored in 2 biological systems i) aquaporins, which will serve as an experimental measure of water and confined alcohols and ii) Hv1 channels, considering coupling between water flow (its structuring) and proton transport.

The nano-bio interaction between carbon and amino structures is studied theoretically through the physisorption free energy from a semiclassical and quantum point of view; and experimentally through atomic force microscopy and chromatography. In order to explore carbon nanostructures as modulators for voltage sensing we are going to …

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Where do we do it?

We use the facilities of the Surface Physics Laboratory, located in the Physics Department of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Valparaíso. This allows us to have equipment for the growth and characterization of nanomaterials through different experimental techniques.

Join us

N2BP seeks to develop with motivated people who want to participate in its growing multidisciplinary research, and who will support us in achieving our scientific, academic and social goals. This invitation is addressed to senior and junior researchers who want to collaborate with us, to students who want to do their postgraduate studies with us in the programs associated to this center, and to undergraduate students who want to do their memoirs and degree works. We also want to work with people interested in science outreach and support their projects.

Those interested in participating and collaborating with N2BP can write to the following form

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We use the facilities of the Surface Physics Laboratory, located in the Physics Department of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Valparaíso. This allows us to have equipment for the growth and characterization of nanomaterials through different experimental techniques.


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