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Free and open to the public


Harris Corporation Engineering Center, Room 101A


The use of nanomaterials has the potential to revolutionize materials science and medicine. Currently, a number of different nanoparticles are being investigated. Viral nanoparticles (VNPs), such as the Cowpea mosaic virus and Potato virus X, can be regarded as naturally occurring nanomaterials. From a materials scientists point of view VNPs are attractive building blocks for several reasons: the particles are monodisperse, can be produced with ease on large scale, are exceptionally stable, and biocompatible. VNPs are programmable units, which can be modified by either genetic modification or chemical bioconjugation methods.

Viral nanotechnology is a young and emerging discipline. VNPs are promising candidate materials for the development of functional devices at the nanoscale. I will discuss some of the design principles that allow the fabrication of ordered arrays of VNPs. Such functionalized arrays are envisioned to find applications in sensors and nanoelectronic devices.

Besides the utility of VNPs as building blocks for the construction of materials, VNPs are of tremendous interest for applications in biomedical research. A major goal in medicine is to develop targeted therapies. Chemotherapy for cancer is not targeted, thus many undesired side effects occur. Targeting drugs specifically to sites of disease while avoiding healthy tissues, is expected to reduce toxic side effects, improve quality of life, and is an important goal in biomedicine. I will highlight examples that demonstrate the feasibility of targeting VNPs to sites of disease in vivo. VNPs can be interlinked with targeting ligands, imaging modalities, and therapeutic moieties. Such smart multifunctional devices are expected to find applications in targeted drug delivery.