David N. Beratan

David N. Beratan

R.J. Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry

Professor of Physics (Secondary)

Professor of Biochemistry (Secondary)

Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

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

Selected Grants

Mapping of Electron Tunneling Pathways in Proteins awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 2023

Collaborative Research: Infra-Red Control of Electron Transfer Mechanisms awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2023

CCI Phase I: NSF Center for Synthesizing Coherence awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022

Harnessing Small Molecules to Probe the Structure and Function of Long Noncoding RNAs awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2017 to 2022

De Novo Biomachines awarded by Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022

Dexter Energy Transfer: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Kinetics awarded by Department of Energy (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2021

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2005 to 2021

Discovery and Manipulation of Biomolecular-Noble Gas Interactions awarded by (Co-Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2021

DNA Repair under Extreme Conditions - Extended Studies awarded by Temple University (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2020

Nanocrystal-Based Diodes for Solar to Electric Energy Conversion awarded by Department of Energy (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2020


Skourtis, S. S., and D. N. Beratan. “Single-and Multi-Electron Transfer Processes.” Electron Transfer in Chemistry, vol. 1, 2008, pp. 109–25. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9783527618248.ch3. Full Text

Tong, Jing, et al. “A Robust Bioderived Wavelength-Specific Photosensor Based on BLUF Proteins.Sensors and Actuators. B, Chemical, vol. 310, May 2020. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.snb.2020.127838. Full Text

Li, Xiao, et al. “Symmetry controlled photo-selection and charge separation in butadiyne-bridged donor-bridge-acceptor compounds.Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics : Pccp, vol. 22, no. 17, May 2020, pp. 9664–76. Epmc, doi:10.1039/d0cp01235a. Full Text

Jin, Ye, et al. “Revisiting the Hole Size in Double Helical DNA with Localized Orbital Scaling Corrections.The Journal of Physical Chemistry. B, vol. 124, no. 16, Apr. 2020, pp. 3428–35. Epmc, doi:10.1021/acs.jpcb.0c03112. Full Text

Beratan, David N. “Autobiography of David N. Beratan.The Journal of Physical Chemistry. B, vol. 124, no. 17, Apr. 2020, pp. 3441–46. Epmc, doi:10.1021/acs.jpcb.0c02604. Full Text

Kang, Youn K., et al. “Orientational Dependence of Cofacial Porphyrin-Quinone Electronic Interactions within the Strong Coupling Regime.The Journal of Physical Chemistry. B, vol. 123, no. 49, Dec. 2019, pp. 10456–62. Epmc, doi:10.1021/acs.jpcb.9b07627. Full Text

Banziger, Susannah D., et al. “Unsymmetrical Bis-Alkynyl Complexes Based on Co(III)(cyclam): Synthesis, Ultrafast Charge Separation, and Analysis.Inorganic Chemistry, vol. 58, no. 22, Nov. 2019, pp. 15487–97. Epmc, doi:10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b02557. Full Text

Yuly, Jonathon L., et al. “Electron bifurcation: progress and grand challenges.Chemical Communications (Cambridge, England), vol. 55, no. 79, Oct. 2019, pp. 11823–32. Epmc, doi:10.1039/c9cc05611d. Full Text

Teo, Ruijie D., et al. “Mapping hole hopping escape routes in proteins.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 116, no. 32, Aug. 2019, pp. 15811–16. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1906394116. Full Text

Bai, Shuming, et al. “Quantum interferences among Dexter energy transfer pathways.Faraday Discussions, vol. 216, no. 0, July 2019, pp. 301–18. Epmc, doi:10.1039/c9fd00007k. Full Text

Polizzi, Nicholas F., et al. “Engineering opposite electronic polarization of singlet and triplet states increases the yield of high-energy photoproducts.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 116, no. 29, July 2019, pp. 14465–70. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1901752116. Full Text


Beratan, D. N. “Molecular control of electron transfer events within and between biomolecules.” Molecular Electronics: Bio Sensors and Bio Computers, edited by L. Barsanti et al., vol. 96, SPRINGER, 2003, pp. 227–36.

Casimiro, D. R., et al. “Donor-acceptor electronic coupling in ruthenium-modified heme proteins.” Mechanistic Bioinorganic Chemistry, edited by H. H. Thorp and V. L. Pecoraro, vol. 246, AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 1995, pp. 471–85.

MARDER, S. R., et al. “STRUCTURE PROPERTY RELATIONSHIPS FOR MOLECULAR 2ND-ORDER NONLINEAR OPTICS.” Molecular Electronics  Science and Technology, edited by A. AVIRAM, vol. 262, AIP PRESS, 1992, pp. 252–64.

BERATAN, D. N., and J. N. ONUCHIC. “STRUCTURAL CONTROL OF ELECTRON-TRANSFER IN PROTEINS.” Molecular Basis of Oxidative Damage by Leukocytes, edited by A. J. Jesaitis and E. A. Dratz, CRC PRESS INC, 1992, pp. 57–67.

REGAN, J. J., et al. “FINDING ELECTRON-TRANSFER PATHWAYS.” Princeton Lectures on Biophysics, edited by W. Bialek, WORLD SCIENTIFIC PUBL CO PTE LTD, 1992, pp. 175–95.