Nanoporous Gold: From an Ancient Material to Biomedical Devices19-02-2021

Nanoporous Gold: From an Ancient Material to Biomedical Devices

Erkin Şeker, PhD

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering – University of California, Davis




Nanostructured materials offer tremendous opportunities for engineering advanced device components for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Nanoporous gold (np-Au), produced by a nano-scale self-assembly process, is a relatively new material and has mostly attracted attention for catalyst applications due to its high effective surface area, electrical conductivity, and ease of surface functionalization. Surprisingly, the biomedical potential of this material has remained largely untapped. For the first part of the talk, I will discuss my research group’s efforts to control nano-/micro-scale properties of np-Au and the application of micropatterning techniques for fabricating high-sensitivity multiple electrode arrays for neural electrophysiology studies. In the context of biocompatibility of such devices, I will illustrate how tunable properties of np-Au may be utilized to alleviate adverse biological response to device coatings. To that end, I will specifically focus on np-Au’s drug delivery performance and its interaction with neural tissue as a function of its geometric features and surface chemistry. For the second part of the talk, I will illustrate np-Au’s diagnostic potential within an electrochemical platform in detecting and purifying nucleic acid biomarkers in complex biological samples. I will conclude the talk with our ongoing efforts toward implementing the described technologies into tissue-on-a-chip platforms to study neuroinflammation and gut-brain axis.


Dr. Erkin Şeker is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Chair of Electrical & Computer Engineering at University of California, Davis and is a faculty member in Biomedical Engineering, Materials Science & Chemical Engineering, and Biophysics Graduate Groups. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis in 2011. He received his PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia (UVA) in 2007, where he developed techniques to control mechanical and morphological properties of nanoporous gold. During his postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Chemistry at UVA, he investigated material-biomolecule interactions and developed microfluidic flow control schemes. Between 2009 and 2011, as a research associate at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, he developed multiple electrode arrays for neural electrophysiology applications and spearheaded the development of microsystems for monitoring transcriptional and secretory dynamics at a cellular-level in the context of metabolic dysregulation. At UC Davis, he is leading the interdisciplinary Multifunctional Nanoporous Metals research group with the overarching goal of understanding and controlling nanostructured material properties and their interaction with biological systems to develop effective biomedical tools for both basic and clinical applications. He is the recipient of Fund for Medical Discovery Award from Massachusetts General Hospital, NSF CAREER Award, a NIH NIBIB Trailblazer Award, a BMES Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Young Innovator Award, and a UC Davis - Graduate Studies Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentorship Award. He served as an Associate Scientific Advisor for Science Translational Medicine journal, is on the Editorial Board for Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, and was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s Annual Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium.