The Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering (CBMSE) is a division of the Materials Directorate at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C. CBMSE was established in the mid-1980’s to address problems relevant to the Navy by taking advantage of biology’s diverse set of applications to technology. Current research is focused on areas related to biomaterial and biosensor development for chemical and biological warfare defense, fundamental structural and functional applications, power and energy, and environmental quality. Our goals at CBMSE are to:

  • Identify biological approaches with the greatest potential to provide new capabilities for the Navy and Department of Defense.
  • Focus on tractable bio-inspired solutions to address problems that have not otherwise been solved by conventional means.
  • Translate cutting-edge, bio-based discoveries into useful and robust materials, sensors, and prototypes that can be scaled up and which lead to enhanced capabilities in the field.

Current research is focused on areas related to biomaterial and biosensor development for chemical and biological warfare defense, fundamental structural and functional applications, power and energy, and environmental quality through projects that include:

  • Biosensors on microfluidic platforms
  • Systems biology of marine microorganisms
  • Cell Imaging using quantum dot Nanoparticles
  • Genomics and proteomics of marine biofilms
  • Nano-scale self-assembly and manipulations
  • Proteins as functional materials
  • Energy harvesting under the ocean
  • Protection and decontamination with mesoporous materials
  • Environmental monitoring and cleanup

The Center’s modern facilities include general laboratories for research in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physics. Specialized areas include an electron microscope facility, a scanning probe microscope laboratory, instrument rooms with access to a variety of spectrophotometers, and an optical microscope facility including polarization, fluorescence and confocal microscopes. Additional laboratories accommodate nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), a liquid chromatograph–mass spectrometer (LC­MS), and equipment for biosensor programs, including a plastic micro-fabrication facility to enable fabrication of micro-fluidic and micro-optical systems in polymers. The Center also maintains X-ray diffraction systems for crystallographic studies.

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