Biological Nanomaterials (NANO*4100)

Code and section: NANO*4100*01

Term: Fall 2019

Instructor: Vladimir Ladizhansky


Course Description

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.



Tuesday and Thursday
11:30 - 12:50
MCKN 317

First Lecture September 5, 2019

There is no Final Exam for this course. 

Instructional Support

Instructor:  Vladimir Ladizhansky
Telephone:  +1-519-824-4120 x53989
Office:  SSC 1251
Office Hours: Wednesday, 9:00 am-11:00 am. Alternative times can be arranged as required. Please contact the instructor directly

Student Evaluation

Assessment Weight
Assignments 20%
Quizzes 6%
Presentations (Students will be asked to give three presentations.Topics for presentations will be distributed in advance.) 45%
Papers/Projects (Students will have to write a research proposal based on one of their presentations.) 25%
Participation in discussions 4%


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.

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. 

​​​​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. Lipoproteins.

Learning Resources

Recommended Resources

  • Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life (Textbook)
    Richard A. L. Jones
    Paperback – Nov 29 2007
  • Molecular Cell Biology (Textbook)
    Harvey Lodish et al.
    Hardcover – Jun 15 2007
  • Proteins: Structure and Molecular Properties (Textbook)
    Thomas E. Creighton
    Hardcover – Dec 1 2013

Additional Resources

  • Lecture Notes (Notes)
    Additional literature (papers, lecture notes, links to online materials, etc.) will be distributed. 

University Statements

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars.

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

For Guelph students, information can be found on the SAS website.

Academic Integrity

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 encourages academic integrity. 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.

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs.


Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  An official course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester and/or posted on Courselink.