IEEE SEM WIE Technical Seminar - Talking to Proteins: Decoding the Nano-World Using Terahertz Electromagnetic Signals

#WIE #seminar #biocommunication

IEEE SEM Women in Engineering & Wayne State University Research Seminar

The transfer of 'information' via molecules is a theme that resonates across the realm of nature, underpinning collective behavior, homeostasis, and many disorders and diseases, potentially holding the answers to some of life's most profound questions. The prospects of understanding and manipulating this natural modality of communication have attracted significant research interest from information and communication theorists (ICT) over the past two decades.


In my talk, we propose using Terahertz (THz)-electromagnetic (EM) waves to sense and control molecular interactions, specifically protein folding, employing plasmonic nano-antennas. By carefully modulating the THz nano-antenna frequency and intensity, we have theoretically proven that we can induce specific structural transitions in proteins, influencing their function and kinetics. As the protein transitions from an unfolded to a folded conformation upon being triggered by a THz signal, it gains information, reducing the uncertainty regarding its 3D native structure.


Operating under the premise that any biological interaction is a form of communication, implying information exchange, we apply wireless communication knowledge to trigger, interrogate, and further understand biological interactions. However, unlike conventional macroscale wireless systems, we do this at the nanoscale. In this context, the transmitter is an implanted nano-antenna, the channel is the intrabody environment, and the receiver is the protein molecule. Such an electromagnetically triggered protein system could potentially replace invasive surgery, as it holds promise for various biomedical applications, including the modulation of enzymatic reactions, influencing drug interactions with proteins, and controlling signal transduction pathways.


  Date and Time




  • Date: 21 Feb 2024
  • Time: 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM
  • All times are (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
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  • Starts 13 February 2024 12:35 PM
  • Ends 21 February 2024 12:55 PM
  • All times are (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
  • No Admission Charge


Dr. Hadeel Elayan Dr. Hadeel Elayan


Hadeel Elayan is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University in Boston, USA, working in the Ultrabroadband Nanonetworking Laboratory. She earned her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto in September 2023, specializing in Electromagnetic Nanonetworks. Her doctoral work earned her recognition as one of the winners of the Innovators Under 35 MENA Awards by MIT Technology Review Arabia. In 2022, she was honored as a Rising Star in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) by the University of Texas at Austin for her research on THz-induced protein interactions. Hadeel received the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence (International Student Category) twice during her PhD. Since 2018, she has served as the vice chair of the IEEE ComSoc Chapter Toronto Section.


Elayan_flyer 723.17 KiB