Plasmonic Metal Nanoclusters for Intracellular Imaging
Metal nanoparticles and nanostructures (nanowires, nanorings, nanocubes, etc.) exhibit unique optical and electronic properties and can be used to confine light into subwavelength scale. Very often plasmonic nanoclusters exhibit photoluminescence, which can be used in biology and medicine for intracellular imaging. There are also many fundamental questions such as the role of collective coherent excitations (SPR) in the photoluminescence, the transition between molecular-like clusters and bulk-like nanoparticles and their relation to optical and electronics properties of metal nanoclusters. Our goal is to understand the fundamental physics of photoluminescence and to create more efficient and stable fluorophores for bio-imaging. We use wet and solid state chemistry (e.g. thermal reduction of silver nitrate) and different types of spectroscopy and microscopy (UV-vis, fluorescence, AFM, SEM) to characterize the nanoparticles as well as theoretical methods to predict and explain their optical response (quantum physics and classical electrodynamics).
Plasmonic Optical Biochemical Sensors
This is a somewhat similar area of research in which we also use plasmonic nanostructures. However, this project has a different goal of developing nanoscale bio-chemical optical nanosensors. We use top-down methods of nanofabrication, as opposed to bottom-up wet and solid state chemistry synthesis described above. We use Electron Beam Lithography (EBL) to fabricate nanostructured materials. The goal is to create novel optical biochemical sensors.
Biological Applications for Magnetic Nanoparticles
We are studying the frequency dependent properties for magnetic nanoparticles. These may be used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging. The key point is to have a nanoparticle with a low resonance frequency (100 MHz range) in a very strong applied field.
Development of ultra sensitive optical devices to detect the presence and behavior of biological agents/cells/complexes in a fluid. We are approaching our goal to build a device which is capable to register pmole/L concentration of bioagents.
In collaboration with NIST (Boulder), we are developing artificial tissue using composites of liquid crystals and polymers with the goal to mimic interaction of real human tissue with heat and light.
Nanoparticles Behavior Analysis
(i) Drug delivery - nanoparticles are an excellent tool to deliver drugs on a cellular level. We produce ultra-small ferroelectric nanoparticles, a promising method for drug carriers.
(ii) We are studying how electrically active nanoparticles interact with cells. We have a suspicion that such active particles suppress the development of cancerous cells and may even kill them.
(iii) We produce various kinds of active nanoparticles and study their self-assembly to model the nanoparticle behavior in a human body/blood streams/cells/etc.