Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Chemistry (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

T. K. Harris - Committee Member

Second Committee Member

John Berry - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Francisco M. Raymo - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Roger M. Leblanc - Mentor


Nanotechnology is a term used to describe nanometer scaled systems. This thesis presents various nanomaterials and systems for the investigation of biologically relevant analytes in general, and in particular for their detection, decontamination, or destruction. The validation of short peptide fragments as models for protein aggregation is initially discussed through applying spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to Langmuir monolayer surface chemistry. Following this validation, the use of nanogold as a photoablative material for the destruction of aggregated protein is investigated. Subsequently, the versatility of nanotechnology is shown by investigating a different form of nanogold; namely, gold quantum dots and the interesting phenomenon that arise when dealing with materials on a nanoscale. Experiments involving a complex between these gold quantum dots and an antibody are performed for the detection of an immunoglobulin in solution. The power of this analytical technique is highlighted by the capability of detecting the analyte at nanomolar concentrations. Finally, a limitation-the multiple synthetic steps necessary for imparting biological activity-- of quantum dots is addressed: a single step reaction is studied that allows for direct stabilization and conjugation of quantum dots with proteins and enzymes. As a representative application of the above mentioned procedure, the detection and decontamination of an organophosphorus compound is explored. In general, methods for overcoming limitations of nanoparticles and nanocrystals are discussed.


Biomolecular Recognition; Nanoparticles; Quantum Dots; Molecular Recognition; Nanotechnology