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Ron Zuckermann

Ron Zuckermann

Facility Director, Biological Nanostructures


personal website


I am fascinated by the way nature builds precise 3-dimensional nanostructures from the folding of linear polymers. We aim to adapt the fundamental principles of protein folding to man-made polymers, to create novel and robust nanoarchitectures that are capable of specific molecular recognition and catalysis. We have developed a new class of bio-inspired polymer called 'peptoids' that can be synthesized with remarkable efficiency and sequence-specific precision. This enables us to prepare vast combinatorial libraries of information-rich polymers, and screen them for a variety of functions. In close collaboration with theorists, we are discovering the design rules that govern the synthesis of atomically-ordered, protein-mimetic materials to solve frontier problems in energy and materials science.


Ph.D. Chemistry, UC Berkeley, 1989.  Advisor: Prof. Peter Schultz

B.S. Chemistry, Harvey Mudd College, 1984


Automated synthesizers are used to make sequence-defined peptoids.

Amphiphilic peptoids like this one self-assemble into highly-ordered nanosheet bilayers.

Design rules are emerging that relate the monomers sequence to the folded structure. 

Selected Publications

  1. Robertson, E. J., Proulx, C., Su, J. K., Garcia, R. L., Yoo, S., Nehls, E. M., Connolly, M. D., Taravati, L. & Zuckermann, R. N. Molecular Engineering of the Peptoid Nanosheet Hydrophobic Core. Langmuir 32, 11946-11957, (2016).
  2. Sun, J., Jiang, X., Lund, R., Downing, K. H., Balsara, N. P. & Zuckermann, R. N. Self-assembly of crystalline nanotubes from monodisperse amphiphilic diblock copolypeptoid tiles. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 3954-3959, (2016).
  3. Robertson, E. J., Battigelli, A., Proulx, C., Mannige, R. V., Haxton, T. K., Yun, L., Whitelam, S. & Zuckermann, R. N. Design, Synthesis, Assembly, and Engineering of Peptoid Nanosheets. Acc. Chem. Res. 49, 379-389, (2016).
  4. Flood, D., Proulx, C., Robertson, E. J., Battigelli, A., Wang, S., Schwartzberg, A. M. & Zuckermann, R. N. Improved chemical and mechanical stability of peptoid nanosheets by photo-crosslinking the hydrophobic core. Chem. Commun. 52, 4753-4756, (2016).
  5. Mannige, R. V., Haxton, T. K., Proulx, C., Robertson, E. J., Battigelli, A., Butterfoss, G. L., Zuckermann, R. N. & Whitelam, S. Peptoid nanosheets exhibit a new secondary-structure motif. Nature 526, 415-420, (2015).
  6. Knight, A. S., Zhou, E. Y., Francis, M. B. & Zuckermann, R. N. Sequence Programmable Peptoid Polymers for Diverse Materials Applications. Adv. Mater. 38, 5665-5691, (2015).
  7. Sanii, B., Haxton, T. K., Olivier, G. K., Cho, A., Barton, B., Proulx, C., Whitelam, S. & Zuckermann, R. N. Structure-Determining Step in the Hierarchical Assembly of Peptoid Nanosheets. ACS Nano 8, 11674-11684, (2014).
  8. Robertson, E. J., Oliver, G. K., Qian, M., Proulx, C., Zuckermann, R. N. & Richmond, G. L. Assembly and molecular order of two-dimensional peptoid nanosheets through the oil–water interface. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111, 13284–13289, (2014).
  9. Sun, J., Teran, A. A., Liao, X., Balsara, N. P. & Zuckermann, R. N. Nanoscale Phase Separation in Sequence-Defined Peptoid Diblock Copolymers. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135, 14119-14124, (2013).
  10. Olivier, G. K., Cho, A., Sanii, B., Connolly, M. D., Tran, H. & Zuckermann, R. N. Antibody-Mimetic Peptoid Nanosheets for Molecular Recognition. ACS Nano 7, 9276-9286, (2013).
  11. Chakraborty, P. & Zuckermann, R. N. Coarse-grained, foldable, physical model of the polypeptide chain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 13368-13373, (2013).
  12. Zuckermann, R. N. Peptoid Origins. Peptide Sci. 96, 545-555, (2011).

All Publications by Ron Zuckermann in Foundry database »


Ron’s website: http://www.ronznet.com

Peptoid Summit: http://www.peptoids.org

Nanosheet info: http://www.nanosheets.org

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