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Grants

A two-year grant of $950,000 from the Department of Energy through a congressional earmark for collaborative research with Altair Nanomaterials and the University of Nevada, Reno for research in “Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Nanosensors for Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Agents”.

A three-year grant of $60,000 from the Xerox Foundation for the investigation of “Nanoparticles for Imaging Applications”.

A three-year grant of $750,000 from the Michigan Life Science Corridor (MLSC) for “Nano- and Micro-array Centrifugal Field Bio-synthesis and Separation”.

A three-year grant of $385,000 from the Department of Energy for “Metal Ion Recognition Through Organized Microstructures”.

A three-year grant of $160,000 from the PG Research Foundation for “Centrifugal Partition Chromatographic Separations of Enantiomers With Chiral Dendrimer Stationary Phases”.

A two-year grant of $160,000 from NASA for “DSMC of Laminar Breakdown”.

A two-year grant of $236,780 from the National Science Foundation for “Integrated Smart Wireless SAW Sensors and Systems”.

Pending:“Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Nanosensors for Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Agents”.“Fundamental Investigation of the Role of Line Tension in Nanotechnology”, Phase II proposal to the W.M.Keck Foundation ($500,000/2 years; decision in December 2003). " Fundamental Chracterizations and Applications of Bioengineering Nanocomposite Self-Assemblies", National Science Foundation, Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) Program ($2,000,000/4 years; decision in March 2004). "Novel Nanosensors for Viruses and Bacteria", Department of Homeland Security ($2,000,000/2 years; decision in March 2004). In Preparation (unfunded):
“Nano Prostaglandin Biosensors for Selective Detection and Diagnostics” - $800,000 (NIH; 3 years). "Nanosensors for Viral and Bacterial Sensing " $600,000 (Army Office of Research).
“Quantum Dot Sensors” - $450,000 (NSF or DOD; 3 years).
“Nanoparticles for Imaging Applications” - $450,000 (NSF GOALI; 3 years).
“NEXAFS and PEEM Investigation of Nanoparticles and their Gas Phase Aggregates” - $450,000 (NSF; 3 years).
“Bioengineered Hexapeptide Enzymes for the Generation of Nanosensors and Nanocatalysts” - $3,000,000 (Army Research Office; 5 years).

External Collaborators:

  • University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada.
  • University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
  • University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
  • University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada.
  • Altair Nanomaterials, Reno, Nevada.
  • Xerox, Canada.
  • Cayman Chemicals, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Pfizer, Ann Arbor.
  • Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Our priority is to secure grants for those projects that are not funded yet and pursue other opportunities where our expertise has a good match. The unfounded projects are described briefly below:

Fundamental Characterizations and Applications of Bioengineered Nanotube Composite Self-assemblies.

Nano Prostaglandin Biosensors for Selective Detection and Diagnostics.

Quantum Dot Sensors.

Nanoparticles for Imaging Applications.

NEXAFS and PEEM Investigation of Nanoparticles and their Gas Phase Aggregates.

Bioengineered Hexapeptide Enzymes for the Generation of Nanosensors and Nanocatalysts.

Fundamental Investigation of the Toxicity of Nanoparticles.

Fundamental Characterizations and Applications of Bioengineered Nanotube Composite Self-assemblies: Nanotubes are an area of intense interest in nanotechnology research with the carbon nanotubes being the prime example. The general interest in nanotubes for applications from sensors to fuel cells is evident by other nanotubes such as those of titanium, silica, peptides, and proteins. Peptide and protein nanotubes are especially attractive due to the many variations and functionalities that can be imparted on them towards creating novel nanostructures. Protein nanotubes and nanofibers are made by nature in the form of human hair, spider webs, and the bacterial flagella. The bacterial flagella are interesting and intriguing as they are made by bacteria by exporting a flagellin protein that self-assemble to form a tubular structure with an internal diameter of 2 nm and a length of 10 micron (micron = micrometer = 1000 nanometers). Thus bacteria such as E.Coli can be used to engineer the flagellin proteins with desired functionalities on the surface of the flagellin. Nanoparticles such as gold, titania, and quantum dots can be attached to the functionalized surface to create nanopatterns that would have interesting applications such as sensors, molecular electronic materials, etc. The process of self-assembly of the flagellin proteins to form the flagella is also fundamentally important. The bioengineering of flagellin proteins in their native form and with desired ligands on their surfacea, their self-assembly mechanism, the immobilization of nanoparticles on their surface, and the fundamental characterization in terms of their various properties by imaging, spectroscopy, electrochemistry and computational modeling of the flagella nanotubes and their self-assembly process will be addressed in a proposal to NSF under the Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) program.

Nano Prostaglandin Biosensors for Selective Detection and Diagnostics: Certain prostaglandins such as PGE2 get elevated with diseases such as arthritis, gum disease, and cervical cancer. If these could be measured reliably and at low concentrations in complex biological fluids such as blood, saliva, and vaginal secretions then the onset of these diseases could be detected earlier than the current technologies. The sensing of prostaglandins in complex biological fluids is not an easy task as much interference from other molecules exists. As a result very selective receptors must be designed to interact with target prostaglandins and generate a signal that can be correlated with the concentration of the prostaglandin. Such sensors would also be useful in high throughput screening of drugs and quality control in the manufacture of prostaglandins as they are also used as medicines for certain types of ailments. We have designed novel nanomolecules that exhibit selectivity towards the prostaglandins. They can be immobilized on nanoparticles such as gold, titania, and quantum dots to obtain nanosensors. Such nanomolecule-nanoparticle composites can be assembled into an array to make sensors. This concept can be extended to sensing of other target molecules as chemical weapons.

Quantum Dot Sensors: Quantum dots have gained enormous attention fro sensing applications and for biological imaging especially cancerous cells. They have interesting optical, electrical and optoelectrical properties, as they are semiconductor nanoparticles. Much of the research in quantum dots has been concentrated on cadmium selenide quantum dots due to their intense light emission properties. A major draw back of the cadmium selenide qdots is their toxicity which prohibit their use for imaging diseased cells in the human body. Zinc sulfide quantum dots could be much less toxic than cadmium selenide and they have not been investigated as widely because they do not possess the level of light emission intensity as cadmium selenide. However it is likely this difficulty can be overcome by doping the zinc sulfide quantum dots with an appropriate metal ion such manganese and lanthanides. We have been investigating zinc sulfide quantum dot synthesis with and without dopants and their interactions with various environmental pollutants. We have been able to obtain quite intense light emission form these quantum dots which change when they bind to target molecules providing a mechanism for sensing. We are also investigating their attachment to protein nanotubes and embedding them into microfluidic devices for sensing and separation of target molecules.

Nanoparticles for Imaging Applications: This project is being performed in collaboration with Xerox, Canada. The main objective is to investigate novel nanoparticles that can be employed in color imaging process. The current technology is not very robust and as result color copying and printing is still very expensive. A phenomenon that is critical for color copying and color printing is efficient charge transfer and a robust medium where this can occur. We are investigating nanosystrems that can overcome these problems to considerably reduce the cost of color printing and copying. We have synthesized novel polymeric systems that have unique light emission properties and which could be useful matrices for binding a variety of photoreceptors such as nanomolecules, quantum dots, and other nanoparticles that would be useful in the color printing and copying process. Success with this will undoubtedly have a very large commercial application.

NEXAFS and PEEM Investigation of Nanoparticles and their Gas Phase Aggregates: The fundamental characterization of nanosystems is necessary to fully understand their behavior and to apply them to solve various problems. The basic excitement of nanotechnology stems from the fact that the properties of nanosystems can be very unique and different from those of individual atoms and molecules and bulk materials. Near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) and photoelectron emission microscopy (PEEM) are very powerful tools for understanding the fundamental electronic structure of nanosystems. We are in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory investigating the electronic structures of quantum dots and functionalized nanoparticles to gain a fundamental understanding of their electronic structure. Experimental work is being complemented with quantum mechanical calculations to interpret and understand the experimental data. Subnanoclusters of these are being formed in the gas phase by laser ablation of the nanoparticles as another way to gain an understanding of their structures.

Bioengineered Hexapeptide Enzymes for the Generation of Nanosensors and Nanocatalysts: Hexapeptide enzymes are naturally occurring enzymes in bacteria and other organisms that have repeating hexapeptide structural unit and possess very unique properties. These enzymes promote (catalyze) certain types of reactions; have very selective affinities for certain types of molecules; and can even degrade specific molecules to innocuous products. They could be exploited for several interesting applications and for the fabrication of novel nanomaterials. Their detoxification properties could be exploited for homeland security applications. We are investigating ways to bioengineer them to make them in large quantities inexpensively and to incorporate into them specific functional sites for various applications.

Fundamental Investigation of the Toxicity of Nanoparticles: The dimensions of the nanoparticles is smaller than that of the cell in human beings and other organisms. A natural question that immediately arises is whether the nanoparticles can penetrate the cell membrane, enter the cell, and disrupt cell functions. This can lead to a variety of ailments including cancer. Two recent studies on the toxicity of carbon nanotubes and Teflon nanoparticles on mice clearly indicated that they were toxic. Teflon nanoparticles of dimension less than 50 nanometer cause the mice to die within four hours. It is thus important to characterize and understand the toxicities of nanoparticles. We are currently studying the toxicity of titania nanoparticles and zinc sulfide quantum dots on tadpoles. Titania nanoparticles are being extensively used in the cosmetic industry and in sunscreens. We will also conduct studies with mice and rats depending on the results from the tadpole studies. These studies are timely as concern has been raised about the adverse effect of the proliferation of nanoparticles.