Nanoscale Electronic Nose

Prof. Charlie Johnson's group at Penn have coupled olfactory receptor proteins from mice to carbon nanotubes to create a prototype electronic nose. Olfactory receptors are embedded in nanodiscs that mimic the environment of the olfactory cell membrane.  Odorant molecules bind to the receptor, which produces an electrical response in the carbon nanotube (gray cylinder).


Science Verification Images from DES

High resolution color image of area SPT-CL J2332-5358 from the Dark Energy Survey Science Verification stage of testing of the telescope and DECam.

Nanotech Gene Sequencing

Prof. Marija Drndic is researching a technique to sequence genes by reading DNA bases as they translocate through a silicon nitride nanopore.  As strands of DNA in a salt solution are driven through the pore by an applied electric field, the electric current passing through changes with the size of the base.  This method could be essential for swift sequencing of genes and personalized medicine.


Professor Alison Sweeney studies bio-optical properties of cephalopods and the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of dynamic camouflage.


Topological Insulators

Recent physics research shows how spin-orbit coupling can rearrange electronic bands in a solid to make a "topological insulator" - a new quantum phase of matter with conductive surfaces even though its bulk is insulating.  Penn physicists Professor Charlie Kane and Professor Gene Mele pioneered the theoretical discovery of such materials in 2005.