Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentBorzin Elena
SubjectBio-Inspired Functional Materials for Electronic and
Electro-Optic Applications
DepartmentDepartment of Chemistry
Supervisors ASSOCIATE PROF. Yoav Eichen


A major obstacle for the full success of organic optoelectronics and molecular nanoelectronics is the difficulty in assembling or synthesizing complicated structures with molecular precision. Several attempts to mimic Nature's approach to sequence independent synthesis have been made in the last decade, all with only limited success. The marriage between well established biochemical protocols of peptide synthesis and organic electronic materials could present a viable solution to the challenge of making materials that are tailored to the needs.

Despite considerable efforts and the progress towards a generic sequence independent synthesis of π-conjugated polymers, it is evident that the biomimetic processes of peptide and nucleic acid syntheses present superior possibilities and flexibility in making new materials as well as in making parallel synthesis possible.

The basic structure of the building blocks of nucleic acids renders them inherently useless for direct electronic properties. In contrast, the amide bond exhibits an important contribution of a double bond character, especially when it is electronically coupled to aromatic moieties. This motivated us to explore the use of π-conjugated amino acids as building blocks of π-conjugated oligomers and polymers, with a broader aim of developing massively parallel methods for making and screening complex molecular systems.

The second part of this work focuses on the development of sensors for detection and identification of toxic materials. Inhalation of toxic gases and vapors can produce poisoning by absorption through the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and lungs. Presence of even the smallest amount of toxic components in our atmosphere will result in an almost immediate threat.

The goal of our research is to fabricate a sensor array that will serve as a tool for air quality risk assessment and will provide us with a warning if toxic gases are in the atmosphere. In order to achieve this goal we have chosen a bio-inspired approach, mimicking the olfactory system of mammals. The olfactory system is composed of an array of sensors that covers as much as possible of the scent spectrum. In nature, a specific scent molecule is not recognized by its specific binding to a specific receptor as this would have required a nose with just too many different sensors. Moreover, this approach must exclude the possibility of encountering a new odor. It is our intention to construct a sensor array that will be composed of low selectivity yet high affinity sensing spots. The “air quality” will be assessed by the response patterns generated by the sensor.