Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Murphy, Catherine J.
Location University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Primary Field Chemistry
Secondary Field Applied Physical Sciences
 Election Citation
Murphy is a pioneer in the application of inorganic nanocrystals to characterize biological systems. She has developed critical synthetic methods for the production of nanoparticles for biological applications.
 Research Interests
Catherine J. Murphy's laboratory has pioneered the synthesis and use of inorganic nanocrystals as probes of biological systems, and in doing so, has developed key synthetic methods now used in commercial production of a subset of these materials. Murphy's early work on the biological application of quantum dots showed that these nanoscale protein-sized particles were capable of selected binding to intrinsically curved DNA structures, which led to a series of studies on the internal dynamics of the DNA double helix on fast time scales. Her best-known work, however, centers on the seed-mediated growth approach to the synthesis of gold and silver nanorods of controllable aspect ratio. Her lab has extensively studied the formation mechanisms, optical properties, and surface chemistry of these materials, ultimately leading to the commercial production of gold nanorods by a method that is environmentally sustainable. Murphy's team has demonstrated the first usage of these materials as "nano strain gauges" to measure cell-induced deformation of soft matrices, photothermal destruction of pathogenic bacteria, the ability of nanomaterials to alter cell phenotype, quantitative understanding of the mechanism of their apparent cytotoxicity and its mitigation, and understanding the fate of engineered nanomaterials to an ecosystem.

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