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David N. Beratan, R.J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry and Physics and Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative


David N. Beratan

Dr. Beratan is developing theoretical approaches to understand the function of complex molecular and macromolecular systems, including: the molecular underpinnings of energy harvesting and charge transport in biology; the mechanism of solar energy capture and conversion in man-made structures; the nature of charge conductivity in naturally occurring nucleic acids and in synthetic constructs, including the photochemical repair of damaged DNA in extremophiles; CH bond activation by copper oxygenase enzymes; the flow of charge in bacterial appendages on the micrometer length scale; the theoretical foundations for inverse molecular design - the property driven discovery of chemical structures with optimal properties; the exploitation of molecular diversity in the mapping of molecular and materials "space"; the use of infra-red excitation to manipulate electron transport through molecules; the optical signatures of molecular chirality and the influence of chirality on charge transport. Prof. Beratan is affiliated with the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, as well as Duke's programs in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Structural Biology and Biophysics, Nanosciences, and Phononics.  

Contact Info:
Office Location:  5311 French Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 660-1526
Email Address: send me a message
Web Pages:

Teaching (Spring 2019):

    French Sci 4233, TuTh 10:05 AM-11:20 AM


Ph.D.California Institute of Technology1986
B.S.Duke University1980


Theory and Modeling
Biomolecular Structure and Function
Nanoscience and Materials

Research Interests:

Dr. Beratan, R.J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry, is exploring the molecular mechanisms that enable the function of complex biological machines and molecular materials. Recent advances from his theoretical chemistry research group have elucidated electron tunneling and hopping pathways in proteins and DNA, have helped to define the mechanism of energy transduction in nitrogenase, and have established reliable methods to compute the specific rotation angles of chiral natural products. Additional topics of investigation in Beratan's group include the mechanism of transport in conducting atomic force microscope experiments and the inverse design of new materials. Beratan's group is also exploring new approaches to teach undergraduate physical chemistry.


bioenergetics • Biophysics • Biosensing Techniques • Chemistry, Physical • chemistry, physical and theoretical • Chemistry, Physical and Theoretical • Drug Design • electron transfer theory • Electron Transport • Electronics • Energy Transfer • inverse design • Models, Theoretical • Nanotechnology • Optical Rotation • Oxidation-Reduction • Oxides • Oxidoreductases • Quantum Theory • Semiconductors • Stochastic Processes • theory of chirality • tunneling pathways

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)
  • Goke Ojewole  
  • Zheng Ma  
  • Chaoren Liu  
  • Chetan Rupakheti  
  • Ruibin Liu  
  • Gary Zhang  
  • Jiaxing Lin  
  • Nicholas Polizzi  
  • Yves Wang  
  • Nan Jiang  

Postdocs Mentored
  • Agostino Migliore (2013/01-present)  
  • Shoresh Shafai (2013/01-present)  
  • David Minh (2011 - 2013)  
  • Julia Contreras-Garcia (2009 - 2011)  
  • Aaron Virshup (2009/12-present)  
  • Aleksey Kuznetsov (2009-2013)  
  • Christopher Rinderspacher (2007 - 2009)  
  • Elizabeth Hatcher (2006-2007)  
  • Balamurugan Desinghu (2006 - 2010)  
  • Ravindra Venkatramani (2006-2012)  
  • Xiangqian Hu (2005-2011)  
  • Alexander Balaeff (2005-2012)  
  • Gerard Zuber (2004 - 2008)  
  • Shahar Keinan (2004 - 2011)  
  • Ilya Balabin (2004 - 2009)  

Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Teo, RD; Terai, K; Migliore, A; Beratan, DN, Electron transfer characteristics of 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro-arabinonucleic acid, a nucleic acid with enhanced chemical stability., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics : Pccp, vol. 20 no. 41 (November, 2018), pp. 26063-26067 [doi]  [abs]
  2. Skourtis, SS; Beratan, DN, Editorial overview: Biological pathways for electrons, protons and photo-excitations., Current Opinion in Chemical Biology (October, 2018) [doi]
  3. Bloom, BP; Liu, R; Zhang, P; Ghosh, S; Naaman, R; Beratan, DN; Waldeck, DH, Directing Charge Transfer in Quantum Dot Assemblies., Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 51 no. 10 (October, 2018), pp. 2565-2573 [doi]  [abs]
  4. Seefeldt, LC; Peters, JW; Beratan, DN; Bothner, B; Minteer, SD; Raugei, S; Hoffman, BM, Control of electron transfer in nitrogenase., Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, vol. 47 (September, 2018), pp. 54-59 [doi]  [abs]
  5. Seefeldt, LC; Hoffman, BM; Peters, JW; Raugei, S; Beratan, DN; Antony, E; Dean, DR, Energy Transduction in Nitrogenase., Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 51 no. 9 (September, 2018), pp. 2179-2186 [doi]  [abs]