Peptide nanotechnology is based on the observation that the structures and machines of living systems are largely made from just 20 chemically simple components, the amino acids; they are clearly incredibly versatile building blocks. We investigate how much simpler combinations of amino acids (i.e. simple peptides) may be exploited, as structural and functional components for materials science and nanotechnology.
In order to achieve this, we are developing computational (with Tuttle, University of Strathclyde) and experimental screening tools to explore and map the peptide sequence space for a variety of functions. In doing so we are establishing sequence-to-function rules in short peptides, relevant for assembly, emulsification, reactivity and catalysis, templating and molecular recognition. The use of (mixtures of) very short peptides enables a rational and minimalistic approach to peptide assembly, with low barriers to applications in a range of areas, including food science, agriculture, cosmetics, biomedicine and nanotechnology. We are investigating these applications with industrial collaborators.