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March 26, 2012


Professor Mark Biggs
School of Chemical Engineering; The University of Adelaide

"Molecular Modelling for Better Understanding and Design of Nanosystems"

Abstract. Adsorption, diffusion, heterogeneous catalysis, molecular recognition and self-assembly are of relevance to many nanosystems ranging from nanoporous solids through to nanoelectronic devices. As decades of work in the zeolite field has demonstrated, molecular modelling can in principle provide a basis for greater fundamental understanding and capacity for innovation in the design of nanomaterials. However, in the case of more complex systems such as those involving non-crystalline materials (e.g. nanoporous carbons) and non-simple molecules like proteins, there is still considerable work to be done before molecular modelling is as useful as it currently is in the zeolite and related fields. In this talk, I will present our work that is contributing to this endeavour, including: (a) our novel Virtual Porous Carbon models (below left) with examples of their use; and (b) our use of molecular models to gain unique insight in to the mechanism of peptide adsorption at a liquid/solid interface (below right) and the prediction of the associated free energy, which is critical to the rational de novo design of peptides for self-assembly of nanostructured systems through the selective recognition of specific interfaces.

BioProfessor Mark J. Biggs, who received his PhD in 1996 from The University of Adelaide, holds the Chair of Chemical Engineering at The University of Adelaide where he is also the Head of School and Director of the Bio and Nanoengineering Faculty Research Group. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia, and a current member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts, EPSRC’s Peer Review College, the International Advisory Committee of the National Key Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Board of the Chemical College of Engineers Australia, and the Centre for Engineering Leadership & Management (SA). Prof. Biggs returned to Australia to take up the Chair at Adelaide in December 2008 following 15 years in UK academia, most recently at The University of Edinburgh. He also held a visiting lectureship at the University of Stuttgart (2000-2007) and is a recipient of a Royal Academy of Engineering/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship (2007-2008). Professor Biggs research interests include molecular and mesoscale modelling of interfacial systems including nanoporous materials and bionanotechnology. His work has been reported in more than 75 publications and over 60 invited plenary, keynote and other lectures.

Vanderbilt University