Dr Ljiljana Fruk, Bionanoengineering Group Bionanotechnology refers to a discipline, which employs nanomaterials/ nanostructures (inorganic, organic) and biological molecules to design new functional materials and devices. In simple terms, bionanotechnology is a bit of everything: there is lots of chemistry (synthesis and modification of nanomaterials), physics (rules of the nanoworld and principles of analytical methods), biology (all those proteins and microorganisms), medicine (drug delivery, diagnostics) and engineering (device and material design). However, it is not just a mix and match course, but it uses the principles of these disciplines to highlight new concepts and methodologies developed since the rise of nanotechnology some 30 years ago, which are now applied for design of new materials, biosensors and nanomedical strategies.
Taking into account that students interested in this course come from wide range of backgrounds, the course provides intro to basic biochemistry as well as nanomaterials (types, preparation and biofuctionalisation) before moving to analytical strategies and finally, various applications. Usually, the latter is something that II B students are totally into, so the final part of the course is a combination of old, established strategies and new, often just published concepts. Some of the topics covered are: types and preparation of nanomaterials, bio-hybrid material design, nano-inspired catalysts, the role of DNA beyond genetics, basic principles of biosensor design and definition and methods in nanomedicine. In general, one of the ideas behind the course is not only to highlight a field that really truly developed in the last 15 years, but also inspire students to think along the line of interdisciplinarity and be bold in connecting what seems impossible such as DNA and electronic circuits. There are no textbooks on pure bionanotechnology (we are working on that), so students are encouraged to consult several recommended books from different fields and read the course notes. As a part of assessment there is a student seminar where they have a chance to work together on relevant and up to date scientific papers, and present them to the rest of the class. My motto is: learn playfully and do not learn for exams, but learn for yourself. Hopefully, this is also reflected within the course. Win a molecular chocolate and tell me why Borgs are interesting “bionanotechnologically”.