I am research scientist at Caltech (Dept. of Bioengineering) where I am working on a whole bunch of different projects broadly directed towards answering following two questions:
I received my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Boston University where I worked on understanding light transport in deterministic, pseudorandom, nanoparticle arrays with Prof. Luca Dal Negro. The overarching goal was to create devices which enabled light localization using disorder and to use the same for label free characterization of individual bio-molecules. While the devices I created enabled me a learn a whole lot of fundamental physics and various forms of nano-fabrication, I unfortunately couldn't reproducibly characterize single molecules. Even though there was ample evidence we were at single molecule sensitivity and even getting signals from individual molecules the experiments weren't as reproducible as I would have liked them to be. The main problem was that there was no technology available to position single molecules easily and reliably at a given position on a substrate or within a device. Nonetheless, my graduate research was some of the first efforts towards experimentally studying 2D aperiodic nano-structures and I was awarded the “Outstanding doctoral thesis award” from the Electrical Engineering Department in Boston University.
Since getting my doctorate I have been working towards solving the problem of organizing single molecules in a scalable, modular fashion. The problem could actually be defined more broadly as developing a modular, scalable and reproducible technique to organize discrete self-assembled nano-structures (like molecules, carbon nanotubes or proteins) within top-down devices like those found in microelectronics. And, this effort has driven me to change my entire research focus from optical physics to DNA nanotechnology and Surface chemistry. In retrospect it was not the safest choice but all's well that ends well. Today, "DNA origami placement", a technique I developed during my time at Caltech enables me to position single DNA molecules with approximately 97% yield using standard microfabrication tools on "any" planar substrate. The capability needs to be viewed within the bigger context of DNA nanotechnology which has created a catalog of methods to label almost any material with DNA. So, today I can position (and orient) any molecule, ion, atom, protein or nano-particle that can be labelled with a DNA, on any surface on which I can do lithography, with approx. 10nm precision. Recently, I was also awarded the Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize (2017) for the my work on merging DNA nanotechnology with conventional micro-fabrication.
With this basic technology I am now focusing on developing function devices that are uniquely dependent on single or well defined clusters of molecules interfaced with micro-fabricated devices. At the same time I am also continuing to improve the basic capabilities enabled by merger of DNA origami and conventional top-down nano-fabrication which, in my opinion, is in its infancy.
You can read more about the research I am performing in the "Research" section.
Note about my research section:
Rather than trying to write vague description of my research I have attempted to craft my research section with enough details so the few who reading this (or, cyber-stalking me :)) might get some concrete ideas. If anything looks interesting and you want to know more details, just send me a mail and I would be more than happy to share the details. All the stuff included there are ideas I have conceived, so if you want to take some of the ideas and develop it yourself, then by all means go for it!!! Though, different parts of the work are in various stages of being patented. Also, it would awesome if you dropped me a line because it might be more fun pool our resources or at the very least I could just make you aware of difficulties (and solution) I might have experienced. At the end of the day "Ideas are Easy, execution is what matters". Besides, if someone were to take the ideas and produces something awesome then it makes it all the more easier for me to build on what they did :)
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."
- Richard Feynman
“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”
- Vince Van Gogh
The above two quote, one from a scientist and the other from an artist, succinctly describes the entirety of approach to scientific research philosophy. My interests are firmly rooted in experimental investigation of extremely challenging problems where I have the highest probability of messing up. More often than not this approach allows freedom to present data in new, often unconventional fashion, present opportunities to capture images that are one of a kind (gives the failed artist in me some happiness), keep me out of my comfort zone and helps me look at existing problems from completely new perspectives. It also doesn't hurt that I end up meeting (and hanging out) with a diverse crowd of slightly eccentric people.
Mail code: 136-93, Dept. of Bioengineering,
1200 E. California Blvd, Pasadena,
Ph. no: +1 - 626-644-8884
email: (firstname+g at caltech dot edu) or (firstname.lastname at gmail dot com)