The Vezenov Group is focused broadly on the chemical and physical properties of surfaces and nanoscale features of materials and living organisms.
In particular, intermolecular interactions in soft matter; chemical force microscopy; bio-nano-photonics; analytical microdevices; controlled synthesis and assembly of materials at meso-scale .
In our research, we set the goal of understanding and controlling interactions in chemical systems at small scale (microns to nanometers). The research is interdisciplinary, where approaches of chemistry, physics and engineering converge. We pursue three major directions in this area:
1. Bio-nano-photonics. We interested in developing new experimental methodology to characterize mechanisms and dynamics of intra- and intermolecular binding that involves biomolecules. In particular, force spectroscopy can manipulate single molecules and perform mechanical experiments with single macromolecules, thus, one can move beyond ensemble averages to resolve and analyze transient subpopulations, study details of energy landscapes, and observe mechanics of molecular machinery of cells. To gain independent evaluation of geometrical, structural and molecular transformations within the probe-substrate junction, we combine force spectroscopy with optical near field techniques to achieve simultaneous spectroscopic characterization of binding and folding events. Nanostructured substrates (sub-wavelength apertures, lenses or waveguides) will act as field concentrators to achieve light confinement to the nanometer-sized region of interest.
2. New tools for research in biophysics and bioengineering. Modern scanning probe microscopy techniques are very powerful tools for characterization of molecular properties and function at the nanometer scale; however, complexity and high cost prevent their widespread use in chemical and biological laboratories. We are exploring new, simple approaches to the analytical force spectroscopy platform for massively-parallel low cost binding assays.
3. Meso-scale assembly of functional nanomaterials. One current challenge for science of nanometer scale materials is to provide reproducible and practical routes to assembling these materials into functional devices - a problem which involves making interconnects between macro scale (mm to microns) and nanometer scale. We are developing tools and approaches to three-dimensional self-assembly of semiconductor nanowires during growth, and research their potential applications in photonics and sensors.