Gil Goobes, returning scientist from the University of Washington, Seattle, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. Goobes uses solid state NMR spectroscopy coupled with macroscopic biophysical techniques to obtain structural and mechanistic insights of biomolecular and molecular interactions with surfaces.
These insights have implications for biological recognition mechanisms, biocompatibility in material science research, mineralized tissue research in medicine, as well as other fields in biology and material science.
Goobes’s work in this area includes investigations of the structure and dynamics of biomolecules and their surrounding water on and off surfaces, as well as utilization of biomolecule attachment to synthetic surfaces in analytical and bioelectronic devices.
One of the most abundant non-collagenous proteins in the bone is a -carboxyl-glutamate (Gla) protein named osteocalcin (OC). The concentration of OC increases in a variety of conditions characterized by increased bone turnover, such as osteoporosis, puberty, primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Paget’s disease. OC has high affinity to calcium ions and hydroxyapatite (HAP).
Combined use of OC and beta C-terminal telopeptide CTX could be useful in early detection of bone metastatic breast cancer, and may improve the outcome of the disease. Using solid state NMR, Goobes’s team intends to investigate the interaction and functional role of OC in bone mineralization, in order to better understand how to utilize the protein as a diagnostic tool in the above mentioned disorders, as well as for the development of early detection tools for metastatic cancers.
Goobes employs solid state NMR techniques to examine materials used in cutting-edge lithium batteries as well. His studies – which resolve the dynamics of lithium ion migration down to the atomic level – help characterize processes associated with material deterioration. By revealing obstacles that impede efficient shuttling of lithium ions inside batteries, Goobes’s discoveries are making an important contribution to the design of next-generation lithium battery electrodes.
Dye sensitized titania nanoparticles are gaining popularity as practical solar cells for large scale manufacture. Their success depends on their ability to ultimately increase their energy conversion efficiency. Some of the fundamental aspects of achieving improved photo-current conversion lie in the interaction of the dye molecules with the nanoparticles they are adsorbed to.
Characterization of their atomic structure and their interaction with surface exposed atoms in titania using solid state NMR promises to provide a better understanding of the pathway of electron transfer and a means of optimizing it. Future projects in Goobes’s group will pursue these important questions in photovoltaic research. These studies will also provide the molecular means to understand and improve regeneration pathways during the work cycle of solar cells.