Ting Xu in lab looking at samples

Research Expertise and Interest

polymer, nanocomposite, biomaterial, membrane, directed self-assembly, drug delivery, protein therapeutics, block copolymers, nanoparticles

Research Description

Ting Xu is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.  

The key to future technology is the design and fabrication of functional materials having structures ordered down to the molecular level. This goal can't be reached by conventional "top-down" approaches and remains as the "holy grail" using synthetic materials such as block copolymers. In addition, there have been limitations in the functionalization of these nanostructured materials. On the other hand, nature has made a dizzying array of materials using a few building blocks. Remarkable progress has been made in de novo protein design and various peptides have been designed with well-defined structure-sequence relationship and are able to mimic or exceed natural protein functions with much more simple, yet robust, structures. Researches in Xu's group take advantage of the recent developments in de novo protein design and peptidomimetics, polymer science and nanoparticles synthesis and manipulation, and use designed peptides and proteins in concert with the self-assembly of block copolymers, conjugated molecule and nanoparticles as platforms to generate nanostructured materials. Her group aims to generate hierarchical structures spanning multi-length scales down to few nanometers with built-in biological, electrical and magnetic functionalities. Her research group focuses on a fundamental understanding of the physics of assemblage on multiple length scales leading to the design and assembly of functional thin films with tailored functionalities.

In the News

VIDEO: How to make plastic truly biodegradable

UC Berkeley’s Ting Xu and her students have come up with one solution for the global problem of single-use plastics: embed enzymes in the plastic, so that once the bag or cup is no longer wanted, it will self-destruct with a little heat and water.

Lab-made proteins mimic cellular gatekeepers

In a new study published in the journal Nature, engineers at UC Berkeley and their collaborators describe the first lab-made versions of gatekeeper proteins that filter good from bad just as well as the real thing.

Five innovators join the ranks of the Bakar Fellows

Five UC Berkeley faculty innovators have been selected for the Bakar Fellows Program, which supports faculty working to apply scientific discoveries to real-world issues in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry and biological and physical sciences.

Self-assembling nanorods

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a relatively fast, easy and inexpensive technique for inducing nanorods to self-assemble into aligned and ordered macroscopic structures.

Polymer membranes with molecular-sized channels that assemble themselves

Many futurists envision a world in which polymer membranes with molecular-sized channels are used to capture carbon, produce solar-based fuels, or desalinate seawater, among many other functions. This will require methods by which such membranes can be readily fabricated in bulk quantities. A technique representing a significant first step down that road has now been successfully demonstrated. Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers — led by materials scientist Ting Xu — have developed a solution-based method for inducing the self-assembly of flexible polymer membranes with highly aligned subnanometer channels.

Capturing carbon

Researchers at Berkeley and other universities to find ways to capture carbon dioxide, produced by burning coal and natural gas, from the waste stream of power plants so that it can be sequestered underground.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
April 22, 2021
Brooks Hays
Most plastics advertised as "biodegradable" aren't all that degradable. In fact, researchers estimate that most of these supposedly eco-friendly plastics end up in landfills and last just as long as forever plastics. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new method for composting biodegradable plastics -- one that actually works. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
April 21, 2021
Scientists have invented a way to make compostable plastics break down within a few weeks with just heat and water. The new process, developed by researchers at University of California, Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes in the plastic as it's made. "If you have the enzyme only on the surface of the plastic, it would just etch down very slowly," said Ting Xu, UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry. "You want it distributed nanoscopically everywhere so that, essentially, each of them just needs to eat away their polymer neighbors, and then the whole material disintegrates." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic also appeared in Spektrum.de, and IFLScience.
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