Chemistry Department
Headshot of Professor Ellen Robertson

Ellen Robertson

Job Title
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Wold Center 217
Department/Program:
Chemistry

Research interests

Two-dimensional metal nanoparticle arrays are essential components in a variety of opto-electronic devices, such as catalysts, sensors, and memory storage units. Controlling the precise arrangement of nanoparticles in two dimensions is critical to achieving specific properties of these devices. The self-assembly of nanoparticles at fluid interfaces is a simple and inexpensive strategy for fabricating large-scale two-dimensional arrays, but controlling the precise spacing between the nanoparticles using this method is challenging. In the Robertson Lab, our goal is to develop a generalizable strategy to control the patterning of functionalized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) at fluid interfaces using engineerable peptoid monolayers as templates for assembly. Peptoids are sequence-specific peptidomimetics that can be precisely engineered to assemble into solid-like monolayers at fluid interfaces. The hydrophobic and hydrophilic functional groups of the amphiphilic peptoid structure can be tuned to optimally interact with and crosslink to specific nanoparticle ligands of interest. We aim to discover peptoid and nanoparticle combinations in which the interactions between the peptoid functional groups and the nanoparticle ligands lead to highly ordered and stable two-dimensional nanoparticle arrays at fluid surfaces. Our ultimate goal is to test these nanoparticle arrays as functional surface enhanced Raman scattering sensors for environmental pollutants.

Teaching interests

CHM 101 Introductory Chemistry 1

CHM 110H Introductory Chemistry

CHM 351 Kinetics and Thermodynamics

CHM 352 Quantum Chemistry

CHM 354 Chemical Applications of Group Theory

Publications

  • “Glycosylated Peptoid Nanosheets as a Multivalent Scaffold for Protein Recognition.” A. Battigelli, J. Kim, D. Dehigaspitiya, C. Proulx, E. J. Robertson, D. Murray, B. Rad, K. Kirshenbaum, and R. N. Zuckermann. ACS Nano, 2018, 12, 2455.
  • “Structure-rheology relationship in nanosheet-forming peptoid monolayers.” E. J. Robertson, E. M. Nehls, and R. N. Zuckermann. Langmuir, 2016, 32, 12146. Featured as front cover of vol. 32, issue 46.
  • “Molecular engineering of the peptoid nanosheet hydrophobic core.” E. J. Robertson, C. Proulx, J. Su, R. Garcia, S. Yoo, E. M. Nehls, M. D. Connolly, L. Taravati, and R. N. Zuckermann. Langmuir, 2016, 32, 11946. Featured as front cover of vol. 32, issue 45.
  • “Improved chemical and mechanical stability of peptoid nanosheets by photo-crosslinking the hydrophobic core.” D. Flood, C. Proulx, E. J. Robertson, A. Battigelli, S. Wang, A. M. Schwartzberg, and R. N. Zuckermann, Chem. Commun. 2016, 52, 4753. Featured as inside front cover of vol. 52, no. 26.
  • “Highly stable and self-repairing membrane-mimetic 2D nanomaterials assembled from lipid-like peptoids.” H. Jin, F. Jiao, M. D. Daily, Y. Chen, F. Yan, Y. Ding, X. Zhang, E. J. Robertson, M. D. Baer, and C. Chen, Nat. Commun. 2016, 7, 12252.
  • “Design, synthesis, and assembly of peptoid nanosheets.” E. J. Robertson, A. Battigelli, C. Proulx, R. V. Mannige, T. K. Haxton, S. Whitelam, and R. N. Zuckermann, Acc. Chem. Res., 2016, 49, 379. Featured as front cover of vol. 49, issue 3.
  • “Peptoid nanosheets exhibit a new secondary-structure motif.” R. V. Mannige, T. K. Haxton, C. Proulx, E. J. Robertson, A. Battigelli, G. L. Butterfoss, R. N. Zuckermann, and S. Whitelam, Nature, 2015, 526, 415. Featured in a C&En news article: “Peptoids Do a Double Twist.“ 2015, 93(40), p.30.
  • “Twist and turn: Effect of stereoconfiguration on interfacial assembly of polyelectrolytes.” N. A. Valley, E. J. Robertson, and G. L. Richmond, Langmuir, 2014, 30, 14226.
  • “Molecular insights in the structure and layered assembly of polyelectrolytes at the oil/water interface.” E. J. Robertson and G. L. Richmond, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118, 28331. Featured as front cover of vol. 118, issue 49.
  • “Assembly and molecular order of two-dimensional peptoid nanosheets through the oil-water interface.” E. J. Robertson, G. K. Olivier, M. Qian, C. Proulx, R. N. Zuckermann, and G. L. Richmond, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A, 2014, 111, 13284.
  • “Metal Ion Induced Adsorption and Ordering of Charged Macromolecules at the Aqueous/Hydrophobic Liquid Interface.” E. J. Robertson, A. P. Carpenter, C. M. Olson, R. K. Ciszewski, and G. L. Richmond, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118, 15260.
  • “Designated Drivers: The Differing Roles of Divalent Metal Ions in Surfactant Adsorption at the Oil-Water Interface.” E. J. Robertson, D. K. Beaman, and G. L. Richmond, Langmuir, 2013, 29, 15511.
  • "Chunks of Charge: Effects at Play in the Assembly of Macromolecules at Fluid Surfaces." E. J. Robertson and G. L. Richmond, Langmuir, 2013, 29, 10980.
  • “Metal Ions: Driving the Orderly Assembly of Polyelectrolytes at a Hydrophobic Surface.” D. K. Beaman, E. J. Robertson, and G. L. Richmond, Langmuir, 2012, 28, 14245.
  • “Ordered Polyelectrolyte Assembly at the Oil-Water Interface.” D. K. Beaman, E. J. Robertson, and G. L. Richmond, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 2012, 109, 3226.
  • “Temperature Dependence of Pressure Broadening and Shifts of Acetylene at 1550 nm by N2.” N.T. Campbell et al., Molecular Physics, 2011, 109, 2199.
  • “Unique Assembly of Charge Polymers at the Oil-Water Interface.” D. K. Beaman, E. J. Robertson, and G. L. Richmond, Langmuir, 2011, 27, 2104.
  • “From Head to Tail: Structure, Solvation, and Hydrogen Bonding of Carboxylate Surfactants at the Organic-Water Interface.” D. K. Beaman, E. J. Robertson, and G. L. Richmond, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2011, 115, 12508.

Additional media

Recent Funding

“Peptoid Mediated Assembly of Gold Nanoparticles at Fluid Interfaces,” Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s Bender Scientific Fund, April 2019, Funded at $12,278.

Academic credentials

B.A. Kalamazoo College; Ph.D. University of Oregon; Postdoctoral Appointment: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory