Welcome to the Ulijn Group website. Our lab is focused on the use of simple versions of the molecular building blocks of life to produce materials and systems with controllable structural, photonic, electronic, and biological properties. These properties open up wide-ranging applications in energy, biomedicine, environmental protection, food, cosmetics, and personal care. [Group Members and Full Biography]
Ulijn Group at ASRC
The Strathclyde and New York sections of the Ulijn Group enjoyed an fun and action packed week in New York with our annual large group meeting followed by the Active & Adaptive Materials conference at ASRC.
Peptide-based Melanin Mimics with Sequence-encoded Properties
Melanins-the pigments that give color to skin, hair and eyes-have numerous useful qualities, including providing protection from cancer-causing UV radiation and free radicals, but also electronic conductance, adhesiveness and the capacity to store energy. We have developed a new approach for producing materials that not only mimic the properties of melanin, but also provide unprecedented control over expressing specific properties of the biopolymer, as published in Science. Unlike other biopolymers, such as DNA and proteins, where a direct link exists between the polymers ordered structures and their properties, melanin is inherently disordered, so directly relating structure to function is not possible. We found that the key to achieving polymers with controlled disorder is to start from systems that have variable order built in, which could be achieved by using self-assembling tripeptides with varying sequence as substrates for oxidative, biocatalytic polymerization. The discovery could enable the development of cosmetic and biomedical products.