Ximin He’s research focuses on development of smart materials and biologically inspired engineering technologies used in biomedicine, environmental analysis and energy production. The results of some of her recent collaborations to pursue advances in those areas are published in the current issue of the journal Nature Chemistry.

He is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The image illustrates a key feature of the advances made by ASU assistant professor Ximin He and her research partners. It shows the capture and release of specific target biomolecules from an ingoing solution mixture in a microfluidic​ system occurs by the concerted, dynamic and reversible action of hydrogel volume change and aptamer bind-and-release through changes in solution pH. (Image courtesy of Ankita Shastri and Ximin He.)

The image illustrates a key feature of the advances made by ASU assistant professor Ximin He and her research partners. It shows the capture and release of specific target biomolecules from an ingoing solution mixture in a microfluidic​ system occurs by the concerted, dynamic and reversible action of hydrogel volume change and aptamer bind-and-release through changes in solution pH. (Image courtesy of Ankita Shastri and Ximin He.)

She is the lead author – with research partners at Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh as co-authors – of the Nature Chemistry article reporting on progress in designing a more efficient method of separating and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures.

He and her fellow researchers are refining a system that uses chemical-mechanical energy conversion to capture and separate particular molecules from fluids.

These kinds of material systems are capable of performing critical functions in biomedical diagnostics, removing waste from the environment, capturing valuable minerals or contaminants from water. They might also prove to be effective in systems for desalinating seawater.

The researchers are attempting to mimic natural biological processes that synchronize the capture, transport and release of biomolecules. Accomplishing that would enable them to design new adaptive materials – materials that can respond to environmental changes to perform a variety of practical functions.

“Ultimately, our new molecule separation mechanism could operate autonomously, without the need to be powered by external energy sources,” He said. “It shows great promise as a starting point for future development of high-efficiency, self-sustainable energy technologies that can be adapted to various environments.”

ASU materials science and engineering doctoral student Hanqing Nan and undergraduate Maritza Mujica are also co-authors of the Nature Chemistry article.

The research was supported by the Basic Energy Science Division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Biomolecular Materials Program.

In addition to her assistant professor position, He is also a member of the graduate faculty in the chemical engineering program and with the Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics in the Biodesign Institute at ASU.

Before joining ASU, He earned a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Cambridge and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Wyss Institute of Bioinspired Engineering and the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University.

Her research on bioinspired materials and novel nanostructured polymeric solar cells have earned a number of regional and international awards and been reported on in more than a 100 international news outlets.

Read more about the research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and on the ASU News website.

The full article can be accessed on the website of He’s research group.

 

 

 

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