Ms. Nayoung Kim

Ph.D. Candidate

Imperial College London

Nayoung Kim is a PhD candidate in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London in UK, under the supervision of Professor Molly M. Stevens. She received her BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Seoul National University, Korea in 2015 after having interned for one year at EMPA—Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technologies in Switzerland (2014–2015). She received her MSc. in Advanced Materials Science and Engineering from Imperial College London in 2016, focusing on functionalised plasmonic nanoparticle assemblies for assessing biological fluids. Her current research interests are in the development of novel biosensing platform technologies using functional nanostructured materials, spectroscopic techniques and statistical methods for data analyses. She was awarded Korean Government Scholarship for Study Overseas from the Korean Ministry of Education in 2015, AWE William Penny Prize in 2017, Deans Fund Award in 2019, and Imperial College Trust Fund in 2019.

Nanostructure-Based Platforms for Probing Biological Systems

Although numerous nanostructured sensors have been developed for diagnosis or in situ biological monitoring by employing various bioanalytic techniques, challenges remain for reaching translational stages. Difficulties often arise from toxicity and instability of probes, limiting their sensing performance within biological environments. Practical limitations also come from signal interference from non-specific signals from diverse biomolecules in inherently complex biological systems, which require excessive sample pre-processing including purification and labelling of samples. To overcome these challenges, my PhD studies focus on devising robust and versatile sensing platform technologies that can be applied in minimally-processed biological environments for broad biomedical applications. My recent work has demonstrated an arrayed platform towards facile disease diagnostics where biological samples can be simply discriminated in a label- and wash-free format with enhanced accuracy. We implemented an artificial-nose inspired methodology, using mildly-selective self-assembled monolayers to diversify the spectroscopic fingerprints obtainable and amplify the data dimensionality. Alongside substrate-based diagnostics, I have keenly pursued the development of biologically activatable nanoprobes for the investigation of biomolecular processes at a cellular level. My particular interests are in functional DNA materials, aiming for the monitoring of changes in expression of proteins, nucleic acids and small molecules that are associated with the development of diseases. My current work focuses on the development of programmable, stable DNA-inorganic hybrid particles for real-time monitoring of the energy status of living cells towards a better understanding of cellular metabolism. Given the versatility of the proposed sensing platforms, we envision that it will open up a number of opportunities for wide-ranging biomedical applications from biomolecular detection, disease diagnosis to monitoring of biological processes.