Conference Report: BIOMOLECTRO (BioMolecular Electronics) CECAM-PSI-K conference

(BioMolecular Electronics)

CECAM-PSI-K conference, Madrid, 27th -31st August 2018

Organizers: Linda A. Zotti, Juan Carlos Cuevas, Rubén Pérez

Venue: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

Sponsors: PSI_K & CECAM (83%), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (11%), IFIMAC (5%) and Catedra UAM-Fujitsu (2.5%)

BIOMOLECTRO was a very exciting event which took place this summer in Madrid. The aim of the conference was to bring together theoreticians and experimentalists working on the subject of electron transport through biomolecules such as proteins, peptides or DNA, as well as through bio-inspired devices and systems like bacterial nanowires. The conference was very successful, joining many world-leading scientists and proving that the field of biomolecular electronics is most certainly flourishing. This is thanks to the plethora of rich physical and chemical properties biomolecules have to offer (such as redox and optical functionalities as well as specific chemical recognition and self-assembly ) and to their potential to be employed in nanoscale devices.

The key merit of this conference was the unique joining of researchers from the fields of electron transport in molecular electronics, electron transfer in biology, and biosensors, and gathering their varied expertise and knowledge to produce many new ideas and directions. Please see below for the list of speakers and titles of their talks as well as the abstract book.

Some of the major scientific outcomes of the conference:

Striking results on protein-based junctions showed that these molecules can sustain surprisingly high currents and suggest that the transport in these junctions may be dominated by quantum tunneling, contrary to the common wisdom in biology. In particular, the growth of interesting experimental data and the lack of their complete understanding highlighted the need for (ab initio) quantum mechanical calculations of the electron transport in protein-based junctions.

The electron transport through amino acids and peptides turned out to be quite a controversial issue, based on the comparison between theoretical and experimental results which point to these systems being quite decent conductors when assembled in monolayers, but poor conductors when incorporated in single-molecule junctions.

DNA-based electronics was also confirmed as a promising field and  the importance of different factors like sequence or the interaction with a substrate was revealed (putting an end to an initial phase of confusion and very disparate experimental results).

An emerging topic which was discussed as well was that of bacterial nanowires or cable bacteria. These biological wires are electrically conductive appendages produced by a number of bacteria and whose purpose is to facilitate long-range extracellular electron transfer, the mechanism of which remains poorly understood.

Moreover, certain processes taking place in molecules (such as  chiral-induced spin selectivity, gold-thiolate formation, quantum interference, length dependence and polarizability) and the role they might play in biology were discussed.

A copy of the book of abstracts can be downloaded here:

To download some of the presentations instead, please click on the following links:

E. Alfinito:

E. Leary:

A. Nitzan:

D. Beratan:

A. Vilan:

J.G. Vilhena:

M. Elstner:

Francisco Dominguez Adame:

The following is a complete list of speakers:

Keynote Speakers:

  1. David Cahen, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Efficient Electronic Transport across mono- and multi-layers of Proteins: the plot thickens

  1. Stuart Lindsay , Arizona State University, United States

Are Proteins Conductors or Insulators?

  1. Marcus Elstner , Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Multi-scale methods for electron and exciton transfer

  1. LuisaTorsi, Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”, Italy

Sensing at the physical limit with solution processed bioelectronic transistor

  1. Jochen Blumberger, University College London, United Kingdom

Electron transport through multiheme cytochromes: Insights from theory and molecular simulation

  1. Herre van der Zant , Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Transport through single biomolecules and wires

  1. David . Beratan , Duke University, Durham, United States

Schemes for directing electrons through biomolecules at low thermodynamic cost

  1. Spiros Skourtis, University of Cyprus, Cyprus

Bridge-mediated exciton transport: Pathways analysis of the donor-acceptor exciton coupling

  1. Ron Naaman , Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

The chiral induced spin selectivity effect- Its role in defining properties of bio-molecules


Invited Speakers

  1. Eleonora Alfinito , Università del Salento, Italy

Proteotronics: a toolkit for bioelectronics

  1. Pau Gorostiza , University of Barcelona, Spain

Electrochemical tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy: from metal oxide films to individual redox proteins

  1. Ismael Diez Pérez, Kings College London, United Kingdom

Bio-inspired tunneling junctions

  1. Guilherme Vilhena , University of Basel, Switzerland

Understanding/Tuning the transport properties of biomolecules atom by atom

  1. Ayelet Vilan, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Physical insight from molecular I-V traces using normalized differential conductance: the case of “doped” peptides

  1. Edmund Leary , University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

The single molecule conductance of porphyrins: voltage dependent conductance increase with length and atropisomerisation

  1. Sivan Refaely Abramson , University of California, United States

Charge transport through peptides: a computational perspective

  1. Fabian Pauly , Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Charge and heat transport through carbon-based single-molecule junctions

  1. Ioan Baldea , Universität Heidelberg , Germany

Impact of molecular conformation on transport and transport-related properties at the nanoscale

  1. David Waldeck , University of Pittsburgh, United States

Electron transport in nucleic acids. A comparison of DNA and PNA

  1. Abraham Nitzan , University of Pennsylvania, United States

Charge transport through redox molecular junctions

  1. Agostino Migliore , Duke University, United States

Biomolecular signaling mediated by DNA charge transport

  1. Christian Nijhuis , National University of Singapore, Singapore

Room-Temperature Tunnel Magnetoresistance across Biomolecular Tunnel Junctions Based on Ferritin

  1. Vladimiro Mujica, Arizona State University, United States

Polarizability as a molecular descriptor for conductance in molecular junctions

  1. Mohamed Y. El-Naggar , University of Southern California, United States

Nature’s Conductors: Extracellular Electron Transport in Microbial Redox Conduits

  1. Uri Peskin , Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel

Towards Mechanical Stabilization of Molecular Electronic Devices:“Cooling by Heating” and more

  1. Josh Hihath , University of California, United States

Charge Transport in RNA and DNA: From Fundamentals to Function

  1. Dmitry Ryndyk, University of Bremen, Germany

Computational quantum transport with dephasing: DFTB+XT open software package

  1. Danny Porath, Hebrew University, Israel

Novel DNA-Based Molecules and Their Charge Transport Properties

  1. Artur Erbe , Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany

DNA-origami templated assembly of conducting nanostructures

  1. Yonatan Dubi , Ben Gurion University, Israel

Towards diodes and switches from single molecules

Conference Dinner:

Our conference dinner took place at Restaurante Paradis Madrid. We had an enjoyable time, sampling some typical dishes of excellent Spanish cuisine:

Below is a group picture with a good portion of participants who were brave enough as to strike a pose under a scorching sun in 40 degree temperature:

We are looking forward to the next meeting on Biomolecular Electronics! Who volunteers to organize it?

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