Research in the Stupp group is highly interdisciplinary, integrating chemistry, materials science, and medicine. The main interest of the group is the development of self-assembling organic materials, focusing on functions relevant to energy and medicine. The laboratory is currently interested on nanostructures and materials for solar photovoltaics and solar fuels, ferroelectrics for memories, regenerative medicine, and cancer therapies. The group has three different subgroups: self-assembly, energy materials, and biomaterials. Research includes molecular synthesis, characterization of structure, measurement of materials properties, cell biology, and in vivo studies of the efficacy of nanostructures and materials in medical applications.
The self-assembly subgroup works on programming of molecules to create functional supramolecular assemblies based on small molecules, polymers, and inorganic structures. The systems of interest at the moment include artificial cells which may have biomedical functions or serve as chemical microreactors, ferroelectric molecular assemblies based on electron transfer, and arrays of aligned nanofibers for tissue engineering of arteries. This sub-group focuses on all aspects of self-assembly including molecular synthesis, characterization of structure by electron microscopy, synchrotron small angle x-ray scattering, electron paramagnetic resonance, spectroscopic techniques, and computer simulations.
The energy materials subgroup is focused on the integration of self-assembly into solar photovoltaic devices and supramolecular catalytic systems for solar fuel production. Current targets include hybrid materials based on inorganic semiconductors and organic electronic materials, organic photovoltaic systems targeting designs for molecular recognition between electron acceptors and donors, and photosynthetic gels in which self-assembly processes optimize the function of catalysts for hydrogen production.
The biomaterials subgroup focuses on the development of bioactive materials that can signal cells for targets in regenerative medicine. The regenerative medicine targets include spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, heart regeneration, diabetes, bone, cartilage, and muscle. This subgroup also investigates novel cancer therapies based on supramolecular nanofibers targeting apoptosis of cells. The research includes molecular design of self-assembling nanostructures that optimize cell signaling for regeneration, mediate cell death vs. cell survival, and guide differentiation of stem cells. A developing interest is the use of supramolecular nanostructures for genetic reprogramming. In this area work has been initiated to create virus-like structures that could carry nucleic acids into cells.
carried out in the Stupp Laboratory is supported by grants from the U.S.
Department of Energy, the National Institute of Health, the National
Science Foundation, and Baxter International Healthcare.