Peng Chen
Assistant Professor

Peng Chen




Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
460 Spencer T. Olin Laboratory
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-2703


Web Sites

Lab Web Site
Department Profile


  • PhD, Stanford University, 2004
  • BS, Nanjing University, 1997
  • 2007 NSF CAREER Award
  • 2005 Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award
  • 2002-2003 Franklin Veatch Memorial Fellowship, Stanford University
  • 1999-2002 Gerhard Casper Stanford Graduate Fellowship, Stanford University
  • 1996 GuangHua Award, Nanjing University, China
  • 1994 YinSong Award, Nanjing University, China
  • 1993-1997 People Award, Nanjing University, China
  • 1993-1997 Excellent Student Honor, Nanjing University, China

Research Description

Our research focuses on using single molecule imaging techniques (Fig 1 and 2) to solve scientific problems of bioinorganic, biophysical, and physical in nature. As compared to traditional ensemble measurements, single-molecule approaches remove ensemble averaging, so that transient intermediates and heterogeneous subpopulations can be captured and characterized. Many unique insights have emerged from single-molecule studies.

A large part of our current efforts is in integration of single-molecule approaches into the field of biological inorganic chemistry to study metalloprotein/enzyme functions and dynamics. We currently work on three bioinorganic areas: (1) single-molecule bioinorganic enzymology; (2) metallochaperone protein interaction and metal transfer; (3) metalloregulatory protein-DNA interaction and metal regulation. In parallel to the above projects, we also work on characterizations of unique catalytic properties of nanomaterials.

Our research program provides students with scientific training spanning from sophisticated spectroscopic techniques, rigorous data analyses, high-level theoretical calculations to protein engineering using modern molecular biology techniques, as well as nano-material synthesis and characterization.



Chen, P.; Andoy, N. M. "Single-Molecule Fluorescence Studies from A Bioinorganic Perspective" Inorg. Chim. Acta, 2007, in press.

Sarkar, S. K.; Andoy, N. M.; Benítez, J. J.; Chen, P. R.; Kong, J. S.; He, C.; Chen, P. "Engineered Holliday Junctions as Single-Molecule Reporters for Protein-DNA Interactions with Application to a MerR-Family Regulator" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, ASAP, September 20.

Nan, X.; Sims, P.A.; Chen, P.; Xie, X.S. Observation of Individual Microtubule Motor Steps in Living Cells with Endocytosed Quantum Dots. J. Phys. Chem. B 2005, 109, 24220-24224. Press highlight: "Motor steps imaged in living cells", Chemical & Engineering News, January 2, 2006, Volume 84, p22.

Chen, P.; Solomon, E.I. O2 Activation by Binuclear Cu Sites: Non-Coupled versus Exchange Coupled Reaction Mechanisms. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2004, 101, 13105-13110.

Chen, P.; Gorelsky, S.I.; Ghosh, S.; Solomon, E.I. N2O Reduction by the µ4-Sulfide Bridged Tetranuclear CuZ Cluster Active Site. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 4132-4140.

Chen, P.; Fujisawa, K.; Helton, M.E.; Karlin, K.D.; Solomon, E.I. Spectroscopy and Bonding in Side-On and End-On Cu2(S2) Cores: Comparison to Peroxide Analogues. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 6394-6408.

Chen, P.; Root, D.E.; Campochiaro, C.; Fujisawa, K.; Solomon, E.I. Spectroscopic and Electronic Structure Studies of the Diamagnetic Side-On CuII-Superoxo Complex Cu(O2)[HB(3-R-5-iPrpz)3]: Antiferromagnetic Coupling versus Covalent Delocalization. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 466-474.