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Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Robert Dunleavy

Discovery and design of novel biological tools for advanced functional nanomaterials synthesis

Departments: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Bryan Berger

Abstract:
Nanoparticles have a wide array of applications in fields ranging from diagnostic imaging to solar cells. Unfortunately the conventional syntheses of these nanoparticles occur under harsh conditions in toxic organic solvents. As such, the bacterial synthesis of nanoparticles has received considerable attention for its economic and environmental advantages over conventional syntheses. Through biological techniques, an enzyme from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, cystathionine ?-lyase, was found to be responsible for size-controllable nanoparticle synthesis. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a metal and antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogen increasingly found in hospital infections. High quality cadmium sulfide and lead sulfide nanoparticles were produced upon incubation of cystathionine ?-lyase with cysteine and cadmium or lead salts, respectively. Future work involves improving the quality of the synthesized nanoparticles and investigating on a mechanistic level why cystathionine ?-lyase can produce such high quality particles.

About Robert Dunleavy:
Robert Dunleavy is a junior at Lehigh University graduating in May 2016 with a B.S in chemical engineering and a B.S. in chemistry. His research with Dr. Berger and Dr. McIntosh has involved the intersection of inorganic chemistry and biology for the past 18 months. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school in either chemical engineering or biochemistry.