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).



Prof. Vijay Balasubramanian's research includes studies of structural and functional organization of the retina with multi-electrode arrays that record retinal ganglion cells. He also studies computational principles that underlie the organization of circuits in the early visual system.

Functional Imaging in the Brain

A representation of blood flow changes in a rat brain during cortical spreading depression. In the experiment, a large local concentration of KCl initiates a 'wave' of neuronal depolarization that propagates outward from a central point and then repeats itself.  The figure shows images of blood flow in four parallel planes located within 3 millimeters of the skull.


Bio-optics and bio-optical materials

Prof. Alison Sweeney and her colleagues believe that the reflective structures in giant clams help them grow algae. The clams use sub-wavelength structures formed from a protein called reflectin to optimize the photosynthesis of the algae living in the clam tissues.

Molecular Electronics

A synthetic peptide candidate that can be used for single molecule electronic measurements.  Single molecules can act as a functioning part of a field effect transistor device as studied in Professor Charlie Johnson's lab.