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Peter B. Allen

Peter B. Allen

Assistant Professor


Renfrew Hall 001



Mailing Address

Department of Chemistry
875 Perimeter Dr, MS 2343
Moscow, ID 83844-2343

  • Ph.D., University of Washington, Analytical Chemistry 2008
  • B.S., University of Washington, Chemistry and Biochemistry, 2003

  • Theory and application of designed DNA-DNA interactions for engineering self assembly and fluorescence based biosensors

Professor Allen specializes in applications of DNA nanotechnology for engineering useful materials and sensors. His PhD projects applied microfabricated instruments to biological samples including mitochondria and synaptic vesicles. Current projects involve the use of designed DNA reactions as well as aptamers (DNA selected to bind a target molecule). Future projects involve integrating DNA nanotechnology into analytical instruments applicable both to the laboratory and to low-resource settings.

  • 3D Printing of self-assembled materials. Microspheres derivatized with complementary sequences of DNA on their surfaces will self assemble into larger aggregates that can be 3D printed. Self-assembly with DNA is well known at the nanoscale; binding together micron scale particles allows us to grow structures at the macro scale. Improving this self-assembly process in order to create materials with specific properties should have applications in tissue engineering. Furthermore, the ability to rationally change material properties on a chemically consistent platform will open the possibility to probe the effects of the local micro-environment on cell behavior.
  • Paperfluidic analytical devices. The use of paper-based microdevices will allow for a accessible platform for performing chemical/biochemical detection. Previous work has shown that isothermal DNA amplification followed by specific nucleic acid probes can give rapid and easily readable chemical information. In the near-term these results can be expanded to multiple targets and a unified device platform.
  • DNA-based state machines. Designing DNA-DNA reactions to perform specific computational tasks has been long studied in the DNA computing community. In order to experimentally verify the theoretical behavior of swarm computing systems as well as create a generalized platform for computational self-assembly, it will be necessary to generate microparticles that can behave as unified computational devices or state machines. By immobilizing DNA reaction “circuits” onto microspheres, it will be possible to create particles that change state upon stimulation of one region of the particle. This opens up much more complex behavior in a self-assembly context as well as for chemical detection.

Department of Chemistry

Physical Address:
Renfrew Hall 116

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Dr, MS 2343
Moscow, ID 83844-2343

Phone: 208-885-6552

Fax: 208-885-6173


Web: Department of Chemistry