Office: Roberts Engineering Building 203, UCL
Phone: +44 (0)20 7679 0663
PhD, Chemistry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
Bsc, Chemistry, The Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka
My contribution to the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering is in the development of a new class of bio-inspired, “agent-based” materials, capable of self-organizing into dynamic systems, to be utilized as nano-catalysts, drug-carriers and self-healing materials for industrial or medicinal use, among other things. The concept of these “agents” is inspired by mechanisms of growth and replication of bacterial colonies, to form fractal aggregates that function collectively in a dynamic, efficient manner. We aim to not simply mimic these natural agents, but to utilize their remarkable features and mechanisms, to develop a synthetic system, capable of surpassing the existing technology, in self-organization and self-healing ability. One of our research goals is to develop a system, which is not only attractive as a mere scientific concept, but one which can be converted to practical applications. Hence properties such as robust nous, mechanical strength and durability are significant in the proposed agents, apart from dynamic self-organization. There-in lays the challenge, as well as the fascination, of this research.
My PhD research experience includes extraction, characterization and probing scopes of applications of the Mycobacterial channel protein “MspA”, which is one of the most stable porins known to date. MspA is capable of self-organizing into solid supports such as mica, form channels in lipid bilayers and form vesicles in water. I have studied mechanisms of self-organization of MspA aggregates in various aqueous solutions and its’ variations against temperature, concentration and presence of organo-metallic complexes. I was also involved in fabrication of a “hybrid soft-cell”, which successfully incorporates a protein component to conduct current, in a dye-sensitized solar cell prototype, for the first time. I am also experienced in use of liposomes and protein vesicles as drug-delivery vehicles for treatment and detection of cancer.
My previous postdoctoral research, conducted at Kansas State University, includes developing a novel nano-catalyst from acid-functionalized, iron/iron oxide core-shell nanoparticles as a catalyst for cellulose dehydration. This research aimed at developing a selective, industrial scale catalyst for glucose production from plant matter, which in turn would be utilized as a source for bio fuel.