David N. Beratan

R.J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry

Office Location: 
5311 French Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Front Office Address: 
Box 90346, Durham, NC 27708-0346
(919) 660-1526


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.  

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology 1986

  • B.S., Duke University 1980

NSF/DMR-BSF: Bioinspired materials for electron and proton conduction membranes awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Collaborative Research: Infra-Red Control of Electron Transfer Mechanisms awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2019

GAANN - Department of Chemistry awarded by Department of Education (Program Administrator). 2015 to 2018

Nanocrystal-Based Diodes for Solar to Electric Energy Conversion awarded by Department of Energy (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2018

Developing small-molecule probes for protein arginine methyltransferases awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2015 to 2018

Mapping of Electron Tunneling Pathways in Proteins awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 2018

DNA Repair Under Extreme Conditions awarded by Temple University (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2018

Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) awarded by Montana State University (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

Collaborative Research: Directed Charge Transfer in Metal Containing Peptide Nucleic-Acid Assemblies awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2017

Conductive DNA Systems and Molecular Devices awarded by Northwestern University (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2016


Skourtis, SS, and Beratan, DN. "Single-and Multi-Electron Transfer Processes." Electron Transfer in Chemistry. April 15, 2008. 109-125. Full Text

Liu, R, Bloom, BP, Waldeck, DH, Zhang, P, and Beratan, DN. "Controlling the Electron-Transfer Kinetics of Quantum-Dot Assemblies." The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 121.27 (July 13, 2017): 14401-14412. Full Text

Bloom, BP, Graff, BM, Ghosh, S, Beratan, DN, and Waldeck, DH. "Chirality Control of Electron Transfer in Quantum Dot Assemblies." Journal of the American Chemical Society 139.26 (July 2017): 9038-9043. Full Text

Beall, E, Ulku, S, Liu, C, Wierzbinski, E, Zhang, Y, Bae, Y, Zhang, P, Achim, C, Beratan, DN, and Waldeck, DH. "Effects of the Backbone and Chemical Linker on the Molecular Conductance of Nucleic Acid Duplexes." Journal of the American Chemical Society 139.19 (May 2017): 6726-6735. Full Text

Bai, Y, Rawson, J, Roget, SA, Olivier, J-H, Lin, J, Zhang, P, Beratan, DN, and Therien, MJ. "Controlling the excited-state dynamics of low band gap, near-infrared absorbers via proquinoidal unit electronic structural modulation." Chem. Sci. 8.9 (2017): 5889-5901. Full Text

Nayak, A, Park, J, De Mey, K, Hu, X, Duncan, TV, Beratan, DN, Clays, K, and Therien, MJ. "Large Hyperpolarizabilities at Telecommunication-Relevant Wavelengths in Donor-Acceptor-Donor Nonlinear Optical Chromophores." ACS central science 2.12 (December 16, 2016): 954-966. Full Text Open Access Copy

Liu, C, Xiang, L, Zhang, Y, Zhang, P, Beratan, DN, Li, Y, and Tao, N. "Engineering nanometre-scale coherence in soft matter." Nature chemistry 8.10 (October 2016): 941-945. Full Text

Beratan, DN, and Waldeck, DH. "DNA charge transfer: Hot holes break the speed limit." Nature chemistry 8.11 (October 2016): 992-993. Full Text

Zhang, Y, Zhang, WB, Liu, C, Zhang, P, Balaeff, A, and Beratan, DN. "DNA charge transport: Moving beyond 1D." Surface Science 652 (October 2016): 33-38. Full Text

Polizzi, NF, Therien, MJ, and Beratan, DN. "Mean First-Passage Times in Biology." Israel Journal of Chemistry 56.9-10 (October 2016): 816-824. Full Text

Rupakheti, C, Al-Saadon, R, Zhang, Y, Virshup, AM, Zhang, P, Yang, W, and Beratan, DN. "Diverse Optimal Molecular Libraries for Organic Light-Emitting Diodes." Journal of chemical theory and computation 12.4 (April 2016): 1942-1952. Full Text