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Intelligent Input Parser for Organic Chemistry Reagent Questions

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Due to its difficult nature, organic chemistry is receiving much research attention across the nation to develop more efficient and effective means to teach it. As part of that, Dr. Ian Gould at ASU is developing an online organic chemistry

Due to its difficult nature, organic chemistry is receiving much research attention across the nation to develop more efficient and effective means to teach it. As part of that, Dr. Ian Gould at ASU is developing an online organic chemistry educational website that provides help to students, adapts to their responses, and collects data about their performance. This thesis creative project addresses the design and implementation of an input parser for organic chemistry reagent questions, to appear on his website. After students used the form to submit questions throughout the Spring 2013 semester in Dr. Gould's organic chemistry class, the data gathered from their usage was analyzed, and feedback was collected. The feedback obtained from students was positive, and suggested that the input parser accomplished the educational goals that it sought to meet.

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2013-05

DNA nanotechnology: architechtures [i.e. architectures] designed with DNA

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As the genetic information storage vehicle, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules are essential to all known living organisms and many viruses. It is amazing that such a large amount of information about how life develops can be stored in these tiny

As the genetic information storage vehicle, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules are essential to all known living organisms and many viruses. It is amazing that such a large amount of information about how life develops can be stored in these tiny molecules. Countless scientists, especially some biologists, are trying to decipher the genetic information stored in these captivating molecules. Meanwhile, another group of researchers, nanotechnologists in particular, have discovered that the unique and concise structural features of DNA together with its information coding ability can be utilized for nano-construction efforts. This idea culminated in the birth of the field of DNA nanotechnology which is the main topic of this dissertation. The ability of rationally designed DNA strands to self-assemble into arbitrary nanostructures without external direction is the basis of this field. A series of novel design principles for DNA nanotechnology are presented here, from topological DNA nanostructures to complex and curved DNA nanostructures, from pure DNA nanostructures to hybrid RNA/DNA nanostructures. As one of the most important and pioneering fields in controlling the assembly of materials (both DNA and other materials) at the nanoscale, DNA nanotechnology is developing at a dramatic speed and as more and more construction approaches are invented, exciting advances will emerge in ways that we may or may not predict.

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2012

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Programmed DNA self-assembly and logic circuits

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DNA is a unique, highly programmable and addressable biomolecule. Due to its reliable and predictable base recognition behavior, uniform structural properties, and extraordinary stability, DNA molecules are desirable substrates for biological computation and nanotechnology. The field of DNA computation has

DNA is a unique, highly programmable and addressable biomolecule. Due to its reliable and predictable base recognition behavior, uniform structural properties, and extraordinary stability, DNA molecules are desirable substrates for biological computation and nanotechnology. The field of DNA computation has gained considerable attention due to the possibility of exploiting the massive parallelism that is inherent in natural systems to solve computational problems. This dissertation focuses on building novel types of computational DNA systems based on both DNA reaction networks and DNA nanotechnology. A series of related research projects are presented here. First, a novel, three-input majority logic gate based on DNA strand displacement reactions was constructed. Here, the three inputs in the majority gate have equal priority, and the output will be true if any two of the inputs are true. We subsequently designed and realized a complex, 5-input majority logic gate. By controlling two of the five inputs, the complex gate is capable of realizing every combination of OR and AND gates of the other 3 inputs. Next, we constructed a half adder, which is a basic arithmetic unit, from DNA strand operated XOR and AND gates. The aim of these two projects was to develop novel types of DNA logic gates to enrich the DNA computation toolbox, and to examine plausible ways to implement large scale DNA logic circuits. The third project utilized a two dimensional DNA origami frame shaped structure with a hollow interior where DNA hybridization seeds were selectively positioned to control the assembly of small DNA tile building blocks. The small DNA tiles were directed to fill the hollow interior of the DNA origami frame, guided through sticky end interactions at prescribed positions. This research shed light on the fundamental behavior of DNA based self-assembling systems, and provided the information necessary to build programmed nanodisplays based on the self-assembly of DNA.

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2014

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DNA conjugation and DNA directed self-assembly of quantum dots for nanophotonic applications

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Colloidal quantum dots (QDs) or semiconductor nanocrystals are often used to describe 2 to 20 nm solution processed nanoparticles of various semiconductor materials that display quantum confinement effects. Compared to traditional fluorescent organic dyes, QDs provide many advantages. For biological

Colloidal quantum dots (QDs) or semiconductor nanocrystals are often used to describe 2 to 20 nm solution processed nanoparticles of various semiconductor materials that display quantum confinement effects. Compared to traditional fluorescent organic dyes, QDs provide many advantages. For biological applications it is necessary to develop reliable methods to functionalize QDs with hydrophilic biomolecules so that they may maintain their stability and functionality in physiological conditions. DNA, a molecule that encodes genetic information, is arguably the smartest molecule that nature has ever produced and one of the most explored bio-macromolecules. DNA directed self-assembly can potentially organize QDs that are functionalized with DNA with nanometer precision, and the resulting arrangements may facilitate the display of novel optical properties. The goal of this dissertation was to achieve a robust reliable yet simple strategy to link DNA to QDs so that they can be used for DNA directed self assembly by which we can engineer their optical properties. Presented here is a series of studies to achieve this goal. First we demonstrate the aqueous synthesis of colloidal nanocrystal heterostructures consisting of the CdTe core encapsulated by CdS/ZnS or CdSe/ZnS shells using glutathione (GSH), a tripeptide, as the capping ligand. We next employed this shell synthesis strategy to conjugate PS-PO chimeric DNA to QDs at the time of shell synthesis. We synthesized a library of DNA linked QDs emitting from UV to near IR that are very stable in high salt concentrations. These DNA functionalized QDs were further site-specifically organized on DNA origami in desired patterns directed by DNA self-assembly. We further extended our capability to functionalize DNA to real IR emitting CdxPb1-xTe alloyed QDs, and demonstrated their stability by self-assembling them on DNA origami. The photo-physical properties of the QDs were further engineered by attaching a QD and a gold nanoparticle in controlled distances on the same DNA origami, which revealed a much longer range quenching effect than usual Forster Resonance Energy Transfer. We are currently engaged in enhancing photoluminescence intensity of the QDs by bringing them in the plasmonic hot spots generated by cluster of larger plasmonic nanoparticles.

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2014

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Rational Design of Self-Assembling Crystal Scaffolds and DNA-Peptide Hybrid Materials

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Since the conception of DNA nanotechnology, the field has evolved towards the development of complex, dynamic 3D structures. The predictability of Watson-Crick base pairing makes DNA an unparalleled building block, and enables exceptional programmability in nanostructure shape and size.

Since the conception of DNA nanotechnology, the field has evolved towards the development of complex, dynamic 3D structures. The predictability of Watson-Crick base pairing makes DNA an unparalleled building block, and enables exceptional programmability in nanostructure shape and size. The work presented in this dissertation focuses on expanding two facets of the field: (1) introducing functionality through the incorporation of peptides to create DNA-peptide hybrid materials, and (2) the development of self-assembling DNA crystal lattices for scaffolding biomolecules. DNA nanostructures have long been proposed as drug delivery vehicles; however, they are not biocompatible because of their low stability in low salt environments and entrapment within the endosome. To address these issues, a functionalized peptide coating was designed to act as a counterion to a six-helix bundle, while simultaneously displaying numerous copies of an endosomal escape peptide to enable cytosolic delivery. This functionalized peptide coating creates a DNA-peptide hybrid material, but does not allow specific positioning or orientation of the peptides. The ability to control those aspects required the synthesis of DNA-peptide or DNA-peptide-DNA conjugates that can be incorporated into the nanostructure. The approach was utilized to produce a synbody where three peptides that bind transferrin with micromolar affinity, which were presented for multivalent binding to optimize affinity. Additionally, two DNA handle was attached to an enzymatically cleavable peptide to link two unique nanostructures. The second DNA handle was also used to constrain the peptide in a cyclic fashion to mimic the cell-adhesive conformations of RGD and PHSRN in fibronectin.
The original goal of DNA nanotechnology was to use a crystalline lattice made of DNA to host proteins for their structural determination using X-ray crystallography. The work presented here takes significant steps towards achieving this goal, including elucidating design rules to control cavity size within the scaffold for accommodating guest molecules of unique sizes, approaches to improve the atomic detail of the scaffold, and strategies to modulate the symmetry of each unique lattice. Finally, this work surveys methodologies towards the incorporation of several guest molecules, with promising preliminary results that constitute a significant advancement towards the ultimate goal of the field.

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2021