Anatoli V. Melechko


My current research interests are centered around the controlled synthesis of nanostructured materials and their integration into devices with nanoscale functional elements. While I am involved in the development of a wide range of applications that include microfabricated electron field emission sources, scanning probe tips, electrochemical probes, cell mimetic structures, nanofluidic arrays, gene delivery arrays, etc, my personal favorites among them are the ones that are directed toward creation of interface to life systems on the nanoscale. In order to probe or modify functions of individual live cells the dimensions of the probing elements must be much smaller than a cell and possibly on same scale as cellular machinery. Vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (VACNF) satisfy these dimensionality and biocompatibility requirements and thus hold a great promise for breakthroughs in this emerging field of nanobiotechnology.

Controlled synthesis and characterization of vertically aligned carbon nanofibers

In the past four years synthesis of vertically aligned carbon nanofibers has become my main area of expertise. Vertically aligned carbon nanofibers are graphitic cylinders that can be synthesized a few tens of microns long with diameters ranging from a few to hundreds of nanometers perpendicular to a substrate. They can be grown deterministically by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). Deterministic synthesis means that the nanofiber location and diameter can be defined by deposition of precise amount of catalyst in specified locations and nanofiber composition and structure by precise control of plasma parameters. (more...)

Integration of nanostructures into functional devices

The art of microfabrication and process engineering has become my second area of expertise. The concept of controlled synthesis is based on the ability to produce some material with a specific useful properties. While study of the synthesis itself is a very challenging task and enormous area of research my interest lies also in developing devices that utilize this material. In order to make carbon nanofibers to be functional elements in microfabricated devices a great deal of effort is spent on process development and integration. (more...)

Nanostructure-enabled biology

Creation of new methods to probe, modify or even mimic live systems is my major interest. Development of controlled synthesis of nanostructured materials and microfabrication of tools to interface live cells has become for me, coming from condensed matter physics, a portal to impact biology- immense, complex, fascinating, and highly important for human health field of science. As a part of several projects under development in our group I am particularly interested in understanding the process of insertion of a carbon-nanofiber-based probe inside live cells and into nuclear domain. This process being developed for parallel gene delivery array method or for intracellular electrochemical probing involves interaction of a nanoneedle with flexible cell membrane (and, perhaps, hard cell wall), cytosckeloton, and nucleus. Understanding the mechanics of the process, its dynamics, and possible facilitation methods, such as chemical functionalization of the probe or application of electrical current, will improve our ability to deliver genes and at the same time will help us understand cellular mechanics. (more...)

Physics of surfaces and thin films (coming soon)