Skip Navigation

Chengde Mao

Our research lies at the interface between chemistry, biology, nanotechnology and materials science. It falls into two general themes: 1) developing nanotechnology with biochemical approaches; 2) applying nanotechnology to address fundamental problems in chemistry and biology. Following are some examples:

Biochemical nanotechnology: Fabrication of desired nanostructures is the key for nanotechnology. It promises great potential for technological applications and a necessary platform for the basic nanoscience. Currently there is no general method for parallel fabrication of structures with feature sizes of 5-100 nm. To meet this challenge, we will use self-assembled DNA structures as templates and use soft lithography as the primary tool to develop novel nanofabrication methods, such as the general fabrication of nanowire networks.

Higher ordered DNA structure: How is DNA duplex organized in cell? Our understanding of this issue is far from complete. There are at least three features about DNA organization: 1) DNA is highly condensed to allow long linear DNA molecules to reside in a very tiny space, the nucleus. 2) DNA adopts dynamic structure to facilitate DNA replication, RNA transcription, etc. 3) DNA is highly ordered to avoid random tangling between DNA molecules. To address this problem, we will fabricate nano/microstructured systems to mimic the nuclear environment of the cell and develop experimental and theoretical methods for structural analysis.

Genetic recombination intermediate: Genetic recombination is essential for all living systems. Although a great amount of work has been devoted to characterizing its intermediate (Holliday junction), some key questions are still unanswered. What are the effects of DNA sequence on the structure, formation, isomerization, and resolution of Holliday junction? We hope to answer such questions by imaging and chemical/enzymatic probing of in vitro model systems.

Major techniques in our group include: DNA/RNA manipulation (gel electrophoresis, labeling, hybridization, PCR and footprinting), soft lithography, atomic force microscopy (AFM), electron microscopy (EM), fluorescence spectroscopy, microfluidics and chemical synthesis.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 2001 - 2002, Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998 - 2000, New York University
  • Ph.D., 1998, New York University
  • B.S., 1986, Peking University


  • University Faculty Scholar , 2015


Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

Department of Chemistry, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2084 | Telephone: (765) 494-5200 | Fax: (765) 494-0239

© 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Science IT

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact ScienceIT at