David N. Beratan

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

Selected Grants

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

Mapping of Electron Tunneling Pathways in Proteins awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 2019

Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) awarded by Montana State University (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2018

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

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

Charge-Transfer Dynamics Relevant to Protein-Mediated Energy Transduction awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2016

Theory Assisted Library and Inverse Design for Materials Optimization awarded by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2016

Structural Biology and Biophysics Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1994 to 2015


Liu, R, Bloom, BP, Waldeck, DH, Zhang, P, and Beratan, DN. "Improving Solar Cell Performance Using Quantum Dot Triad Charge-Separation Engines." The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 122.11 (March 22, 2018): 5924-5934. Full Text

Rousseau, BJG, Shafei, S, Migliore, A, Stanley, RJ, and Beratan, DN. "Determinants of Photolyase's DNA Repair Mechanism in Mesophiles and Extremophiles." Journal of the American Chemical Society 140.8 (February 13, 2018): 2853-2861. Full Text

Polizzi, NF, Wu, Y, Lemmin, T, Maxwell, AM, Zhang, S-Q, Rawson, J, Beratan, DN, Therien, MJ, and DeGrado, WF. "De novo design of a hyperstable non-natural protein-ligand complex with sub-Å accuracy." Nature Chemistry 9.12 (December 2017): 1157-1164. Full Text

Zhang, P, Yuly, JL, Lubner, CE, Mulder, DW, King, PW, Peters, JW, and Beratan, DN. "Electron Bifurcation: Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Two-Electron Brokering in Biological Redox Chemistry." Accounts of Chemical Research 50.9 (September 6, 2017): 2410-2417. 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." Chemical Science 8.9 (September 2017): 5889-5901. Full Text

Beratan, DN, Naaman, R, and Waldeck, DH. "Charge and spin transport through nucleic acids." Current Opinion in Electrochemistry 4.1 (August 2017): 175-181. 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

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