Seung-Wuk Lee

University of California Berkeley


Bioinspired Nanomaterials


In nature, helical macromolecules such as collagen, chitin and cellulose are critical to the morphogenesis and functionality of various hierarchically structured materials. During morphogenesis, these chiral macromolecules are secreted and undergo self-templating assembly, a process whereby multiple kinetic factors influence the assembly of the incoming building blocks to produce non-equilibrium structures. A single macromolecule can form diverse functional structures when self-templated under different conditions. Collagen type I, for instance, forms transparent corneal tissues from orthogonally aligned nematic fibers, distinctively colored skin tissues from cholesteric phase fiber bundles, and mineralized tissues from hierarchically organized fibers. Nature’s self-templated materials surpass the functional and structural complexity achievable by current top-down and bottom-up fabrication methods. However, self-templating has not been thoroughly explored for engineering synthetic materials.

In my seminar, I will demonstrate a facile biomimetic process to create functional nanomaterials utilizing chiral colloidal particles (M13 phage). A single-step process produces long-range-ordered, supramolecular films showing multiple levels of hierarchical organization and helical twist. Using the self-templating materials assembly processes, we have created various biomimetic supramolecular structures. I will show how resulting materials can be utilized as functional nanomaterials for biomedical, biosensor and bioenergy applications.


Dr. Seung Wuk Lee is the professor of Department of Bioengineering at the University of California Berkeley and co-PI of Precision Medicine and Healthcare Research Center at Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute. The Lee group uses chemical and biological approaches to create precisely defined nanomaterials, to investigate complex phenomena at their interfaces, and to develop novel, biomimetic, functional materials. Among other awards, Professor Lee is R&D 100 Award (2013 & 2015) and an NSF CAREER awardee. He is a fellow at American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.