Research lab Flexible Electronics And Robotics (FEAR lab)

Liquid metal interfaces for various applications

The group's direction deals with a special kind of material, liquid metals, gallium and its alloys with indium and tin. This composite material is unique in that it combines many properties: high electrical and thermal conductivity, biocompatibility, fluidity at temperatures close to room temperature. Another special feature of liquid metals is easy enough to obtain particles: they are easily exposed to ultrasound, disintegrating into many micro- and nanoparticles.
The laboratory developed a new technique for producing hollow mono- and bimetallic micro- and nanoparticles by galvanic substitution of liquid gallium. Despite the many existing methods for the synthesis of hollow nanocapsules, their number is considerably narrowed when it comes to all-metal structures. Given that galvanic substitution reactions are controlled by standard electrode potentials, gallium is a suitable template for producing multiple bimetallic particles, as it can potentially be substituted by more than twenty metals. By varying precursors, additional reagents, and reaction conditions, fine control over particle morphology, wall thickness, and gallium-to-doped metal ratios was achieved. The metal capsules could find applications in biomedicine, photonics, and catalysis. The work included a publication in the journal Chemistry of Materials ( The paper describes approaches to synthesize bimetallic hollow micro- and nanoparticles of gallium with five transition metals. At the moment the group is adapting the obtained metal capsules for applications in optics and catalysis. 



Magnetic control of biochemical systems of different levels of the organization

The subject matter of the laboratory is aimed at developing a universal approach to the regulation and control of biochemical systems at different levels of the organization. At the moment there is no universal approach to the regulation of biochemical processes in living systems at cellular and subcellular levels. This is the main scientific problem, which is solved by the application of magnetically controlled magnetic actuators to solve problems related to pharmaceutics, biotechnology and medicine using knowledge of materials science, biochemistry and physics.
Magnetically controlled dynamic systems play a special role in reaction control due to the possibility of signal transmission via miniature systems - actuators, which do not directly affect the direct course of biochemical reactions, but at the same time change the kinetic parameters of the reaction, thereby increasing the speed and efficiency of biochemical processes.
As one example, a recent article ( demonstrated the possibility of using magnetic actuators in the form of sea urchins to enhance biocatalysis in yeast cells. Currently, microbial factories are an alternative route for producing biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Despite great advances in the application of genetic engineering techniques to enhance biocatalysis, one of the biggest problems is the delivery of enzymatic reaction substrates inside the cells, where the biochemical reaction cascades take place. In this work, we developed magnetic particles that can increase the membrane permeability of yeast cells under the action of an alternating magnetic field, which ensures highly efficient delivery of the reaction substrate inside the cells, thereby accelerating the biocatalytic production of products. Moreover, this approach is minimally invasive and the cells remain alive after magnetic membrane perforation, which offers great prospects in the microbial factory industry for the production of valuable products.

Structure of magnetically controlled increase in substrate mass transfer across the cell membrane. Under the action of the magnetic field, magnetic particles create mechanical stress on the cell wall, which creates local membrane ruptures and creates favorable conditions for delivery to the cell.