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Chun-Long Chen

Chun-Long Chen


Chun-Long Chen

Affiliate Professor
UW-PNNL Faculty Fellow

Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Phone: 509-375-6468
Website: PNNL Profile


  • Ph.D. Sun Yat-Sen (Zhongshan) University, 2005
  • B.S. Nanchang University, 2000

Research Areas

  • Macromolecular self-assembly
  • Biomimetic crystallization
  • Nanomaterials synthesis
  • Solid-phase synthesis of sequence-defined polymers
  • In situ AFM imaging

Research Statement

Proteins are molecular machines that carry out the vast array of functions needed for the survival and propagation of all cellular organisms. Many proteins form this machinery by folding into functional building blocks that self-assemble into extended networks to deliver complex functions ranging from photosynthesis, to CO2 sequestration, selective ion transport, and tissue mineralization. Motivated by these natural protein-based materials, the central goal of the Chen Lab is to develop sequence-defined synthetic polymers that mimic proteins and peptides to address one of the grand challenges in materials synthesis: revealing factors that allow one to design and synthesize bio-inspired functional materials that rival those found in biology.

The main research interests in the Chen Group focus on understanding principles that govern behavior of sequence-defined peptoids with a particular emphasis on (1) self-assembly of peptoids into functional materials with hierarchical structures, such as biomimetic nanomembranes, crystalline nanotubes and biomimetic hydrogels, and (2) biomimetic control of inorganic crystallization, for example, peptoid-controlled formation of metal oxide and plasmonic nanoparticles and their self-assembly. The Chen Group also works on transferring the peptoid-based biomimetic materials into innovative applications that impact energy technologies and biological research, such as biomimetic catalysis, water separation, molecular sensing, biological imaging, and drug delivery.

Working in the Chen Group gives researchers the opportunity to learn and utilize a wide range of materials synthesis and characterization tools ranging from liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), atomic force microscopy (AFM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction and scattering, fluorescence microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, rheometer, and automated solid-phase synthesizer.

Current Projects

  1. Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS) – DOE-BES, Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), 08/2018 - 07/2022
  2. Design, Synthesis, and Assembly of Biomimetic Materials with Novel Functionality – DOE-BES/MSE, 10/2018-09/2021
  3. Peptoid-engineered synthesis of plasmonic nanomaterials – DOD-Army Research Office, 06/2019 – 06/2022

Information for Prospective Students

We are always looking for highly motivated students and research scholars to join our biomimetic polymer research group either at the University of Washington or at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Researchers who have soft matter synthesis and assembly experiences will be highly considered.

Select Publications

Full publication list: Google Scholar

  • Jiao, F.; Wu, X.; Jian, T.; Zhang, S.; Jin, H.; He, P.; Chen, C. L.; DeYoreo, J. J. Hierarchical Assembly of Peptoid-Based Cylindrical Micelles Exhibiting Efficient Resonance Energy Transfer in Aqueous Solution. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 12223 - 12230. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201904598

  • Song, Y.; Wang, M.; Li, S.; Jin, H.; Cai, X.; Du, D.; Li, H.; Chen, C. L.; Lin, Y. Efficient cytosolic delivery using crystalline nanoparticles assembled from fluorinated peptoids. Small 2018, 14, 1803544. DOI: 10.1002/smll.201803544
  • Yan, F.; Liu, L.; Walsh, T. R.; Gong, Y.; El-Khoury, P. Z.; Zhang, Y.; Zhu, Z.; De Yoreo, J. J.; Engelhard, M. H.; Zhang, X.; Chen, C. L. Controlled synthesis of highly-branched plasmonic gold nanoparticles through peptoid engineering. Nature Commun. 2018, 9, 2327. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04789-2
  • Jin, H. B.; Ding, Y.-H.; Wang, M.; Song, Y.; Liao, L.; Newcomb, C. J.; Wu, X.; Tang, X.-Q.; Li, Z.; Lin, Y.; Yan, F.; Jian, T.; Mu, P.; Chen, C. L. Designable and dynamic single-walled stiff nanotubes assembled from sequenced-defined peptoids. Nature Commun. 2018, 9, 270. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02059-1
  • Ma, X.; Zhang, S.; Jiao, F.; Newcomb, C. J.; Zhang, Y.; Prakash, A.; Liao, Z.; Baer, M. D.; Mundy, C. J.; Pfaendtner, J.; Noy, A.; Chen, C. L.; DeYoreo, J. J., Tuning crystallization pathways through sequence engineering of biomimetic polymers. Nature Mater. 2017, 16, 767. DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4891. (Journal Cover)
  • Jin, H. B.; Jiao, F.; Daily, M. D.; Chen, Y. L.; Yan, F.; Ding, Y.-H.; Zhang, X.; Robertson, E. J.; Baer, M. D.; Chen, C. L. Highly stable and self-repairing membrane-mimetic 2D nanomaterials assembled from lipid-like peptoids. Nature Commun. 2016, 7, 12252. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12252
  • Jiao, F.; Chen, Y. L.; Jin, H. B.; He, P. G.; Chen, C. L.; DeYoreo, J. J., Self-repair and patterning of 2D membrane-like peptoid materials. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2016, 26, 8960. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201602365 (Journal Cover)
  • Chen, C. L.; Zuckermann, R. N.; DeYoreo, J. J., Surface-directed assembly of sequence-defined synthetic polymers into networks of hexagonally-patterned nanoribbons with controllable functionalities. ACS Nano 2016, 10 (5), 5314–5320. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b01333