Biological Nano Materials (NANO*4100)

Code and section: NANO*4100*01

Term: Fall 2023


General Information

Department of Physics
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Calendar Description 

NAN0*4100: Quantum Mechanics I
Fall 2023 (LEC: 3) [0.50]

Biological systems provide a rich range of examples of specialized chemical systems that are structured on the nanoscale. Nanofibres, microtubules, viruses, and ribosomes are examples of systems that can be studied from the perspective of nanoscience. Using these systems or developing artificial systems which mimic their functionality are important growth areas in nanoscience and will be explored in this course.

Prerequisite(s): MATH*2270, (CHEM*2820 or PHYS*2240)  
Department(s): Department of Physics  
Location(s): Guelph  

For Course Instructor, Class Time and Location, please check CourseLink.


Course Materials

Recommended Texts

There is no required text for this course. The following texts may be useful:

  • Jones, Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life
  • Lodish et al, Molecular Cell Biology
  • Creighton, Proteins: Structure and Molecular Properties
  • Additional literature (papers, lecture notes, links to online materials, etc.) will be distributed.


Course Topics

1. Biological molecules and interactions

  • Review of basic chemistry concepts. Covalent and non-covalent interactions. Types of interactions- electrostatics, van der Waals interactions, hydrophobicity, steric effects, solvation. Electronegativity, hydrogen bonding, pH.
  • Amino acids and their properties. Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins. Factors and interactions determining the different levels of structure.
  • Nucleic acids. Structures of DNA and RNA. Interactions determining nucleic acid structures. Watson-Crick base pairing.

2. Molecular self-assembly

  • Formation of detergent micelles. Formation of lipid bilayers and liposomes. Biological membranes. Membrane proteins.
  • Molecular “nanomachines”: ATPases, ion channels, and transporters, molecular motors.
  • Peptide and protein misfolding. Formation of amyloid fibrils and lessons that can be learned from this – novel peptide based nanomaterials with applications.

3. Nanobiomaterials with applications.

  • DNA nanotechnologies. Metallic nanoparticle-based nanobiomaterials. Imaging and contrast agents. Semiconductor-, ceramic-, protein-, polymer-based nanobiomaterials. Biologically-directed/self-assembled nanobiomaterials. Viruses. Biosensors.


Student Evaluation

  • Assignments: 20%.
  • Quizzes: 6%
  • Presentations: 45%. Topics for presentations will be distributed in advance.
  • Papers/Projects: 25%. Students will have to write a research proposal based on one of their presentations.
  • Participation in discussions: 4%


University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the Undergraduate Calendar for information on regulations and procedures for academic consideration.

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University’s policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff  and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community’s shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as soon as possible.

Course Evaluation

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and areas of improvement. In addition, student assessments provide part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member’s contributions in the area of teaching. You are therefore encouraged to take the evaluation procedures seriously, and to provide feedback about this course and its instructor.

Drop date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is 1 December 2023. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.