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Guest Lecture - Gabriel Montano

Sarah Kintner

I have heard Gabriel Montano before and he impressed me as very wonderful scientist and a sincere researcher. The lecture he gave Monday was the same as before. Gabriel spoke about how he came to be a biologist and researcher at Sandia. He did not travel in a straight line from undergraduate to PhD, but sought education to fill in the questions he had along the lines of his interest. His true interest is in biology and he still considers himself a biologist.

He explained how the Sandia Synthesis laboratory outside the main Sandia complex has been arranged into three areas: Characterization lab, Synthesis lab and Integration lab. Gabriel said the terahertz scanning at airports is safe.

He described his AFM work scanning the chlorosome on the surface of a leaf. He explained that the tip sees the forces on the surface of a leaf not the actual structure. The AFM creates an image from the tapping as mapped on to a sensor surface recording the high and lows. The image map shows the surface topography only. The tip of the ARM can be used to detect the chlorsome by potentially attaching an antibody to the tip and tapping it on the leaf surface until the force goes high indicating the antibody has found a surface of affinity or a chlorosome. The tip of the ARM can also be used to push surface features around such as the chlorosome, the underlying chlorosome membrane the and ultimately the pore beneath it.

Gabriel asked the class how to make an artificial leaf. The class gave many responses to this question and Gabriel said this was one of his long term goals.

Three questions I did not ask

  1. How does the chlorosome function in the cell - can you force the underlying pore to close with the AFM TIP and observe what it does to the leaf?
  2. When you make a light responsive activator will you use some of the materials developed in the nanoscience realm based upon the biological parts of the chlorophyll molecule?
  3. Have you used the AFM to create holes in membrane.

Three Future Directions:

  1. How has the CVD encapsulation of eukaryotes differed from the original CVD TMOS encapsulation?
  2. Based upon the ability to keep TMOS encapsulated cell alive much longer than cells in grown in standard culturing conditions, what do you foresee as the products that these cells might produce?
  3. Do you think that in the future artificial photosynthesis may help grow food when the environment or nutrient sources in the world are not readily available in a certain location? Do you think you could pump the electrons into the plant and the plant could grow as if it had produced the electron on its own? Do you think other light wavelengths may be harnessed than the ones nature current absorbs in Photosystems I and II?