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IEEE SEM WIE Technical Seminar – Talking to Proteins: Decoding the Nano-World Using Terahertz Electromagnetic Signals

February 21 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The transfer of ‘information’ via molecules is a theme that resonates across the realm of nature, underpinning collective behavior, homeostasis, and many disorders and diseases, potentially holding the answers to some of life’s most profound questions. The prospects of understanding and manipulating this natural modality of communication have attracted significant research interest from information and communication theorists (ICT) over the past two decades.

In my talk, we propose using Terahertz (THz)-electromagnetic (EM) waves to sense and control molecular interactions, specifically protein folding, employing plasmonic nano-antennas. By carefully modulating the THz nano-antenna frequency and intensity, we have theoretically proven that we can induce specific structural transitions in proteins, influencing their function and kinetics. As the protein transitions from an unfolded to a folded conformation upon being triggered by a THz signal, it gains information, reducing the uncertainty regarding its 3D native structure.

Operating under the premise that any biological interaction is a form of communication, implying information exchange, we apply wireless communication knowledge to trigger, interrogate, and further understand biological interactions. However, unlike conventional macroscale wireless systems, we do this at the nanoscale. In this context, the transmitter is an implanted nano-antenna, the channel is the intrabody environment, and the receiver is the protein molecule. Such an electromagnetically triggered protein system could potentially replace invasive surgery, as it holds promise for various biomedical applications, including the modulation of enzymatic reactions, influencing drug interactions with proteins, and controlling signal transduction pathways.

Speaker(s): , Dr. Hadeel Elayan

Virtual: https://events.vtools.ieee.org/m/406552