Illinois ABE 446: Biological Nanoengineering

By Kaustubh Bhalerao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



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Biology provides us with a vast array of nanoscale, functional components such as nucleic acids and enzymes. Engineering teaches us how to organize components using a rational framework to obtain useful work.

Biological nanotechnology (also known as bio-nanotechnology or nano-biotechnology) is a rapidly maturing field of engineering that deals with the design and fabrication of hybrid devices and systems that use biological macromolecules as their primary functioning components.

Image: Bhalerao et al (2005) Applied Physics Letters
This new course covers aspects of bio-molecular function and the interface with synthetic nanomaterials to explore the possibility of devices and systems that are unprecedented in nature. Within a lecture-and-discussion format, senior undergraduates and graduates will learn the principles of design of biological nanosystems, will be able to critically respond to the engineering issues surrounding the creation of nanobots, and will be able to appreciate their potential benefit and impact in health, agricultural, industrial and human environments.

Topics covered

  • Synthetic Nanostructures
  • Micromachining and Self Assembly
  • Biologic Nanostructures
  • Targeting, control and power systems in nature
  • Nanodevice design rationale and case studies
  • Biomimetic strategies
  • Biological response to nanodevices
  • Nanotechnology in the environment
  • Economic and non-technical discussions surrounding nanotechnology

Course Format: Two one-hour lectures, one two-hour
discussion per week. Two exams and one term paper in the form of a device design proposal. Weekly discussions based on reading assignments.

Course Schedule and Location: Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 to 11:50 am (107 Animal Sciences), Discussion: Wednesday 3:00 - 5:00 pm (320 Mumford)

Prerequisites: Senior / Grad standing or permission of instructor.

Link to campus listing

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Kaustubh Bhalerao Kaustubh Bhalerao obtained his M.S. and Ph.D degrees from Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2001 and 2004 respectively. His doctoral dissertation was on the reliability of micro electromechanical systems used in biological applications (BioMEMS).

His current research interests include synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. He is currently working on developing synthetic genetic circuits inside bacteria that conceptually resemble electronic circuits, and can be used to manipulate the inner workings of living cells.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Kaustubh Bhalerao (2010), "Illinois ABE 446: Biological Nanoengineering,"

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL


See also

Lecture Number/Topic Online Lecture Video Lecture Notes Supplemental Material Suggested Exercises
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 1: Introduction/What is nanotechnology? Notes (pdf)
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 2: Synthetic Nanostructures Notes (pdf)
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 3: Quantum Dots and Polymers Notes (pdf)
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 4: Micromachining View Flash Notes (pdf)
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 5: Self-Assembly and Bioconjugation View Flash Notes (pdf)
Illinois ABE 446 Lecture 7: DNA-based nanosystems View Flash Notes (pdf)