New Kind of Smart Signal-Responsive Biomaterials

CAMP Professors Evgeny Katz (the Milton Kerker Chaired Professor of Colloid Science at Clarkson University) and Sergiy Minko (the Egon Matijevic Chaired Professor of Chemistry at Clarkson University) received a NSF award for conducting the research project “Signal-Responsive Hybrid Biomaterials with Built-in Boolean Logic”. The project’s main goal is to develop a new kind of “smart” signal-responsive biomaterials capable of switching physical properties (such as optical, electrical, magnetic, wettability, permeability, etc.) upon application of the incoming chemical signals and according to the built-in logic gates (such as AND, OR, XOR, NON, Inhib.A, etc.). The logic gates will be composed of biochemical (specifically enzymatic) systems integrated with responsive polymeric supports. See Figure 10. Development of the proposed approach will directly impact the implementation of recent advances in biotechnology (biocomputing) to industrial technologies with broad applications, including bioelectronics, bionanotechnology and nanomedicine. Another priority of the proposed work, is the involvement of the undergraduate and graduate students in modern biomolecular and chemical research. This project will result in the training of these students in the areas of complex enzyme systems, biocomputing and surface science. Students will greatly benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of this project.

Bioremediation and Biosensors

Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Assistant Professor Silvana Andreescu is currently working on microencapsulation techniques, bioremediation and biosensors. Her group is developing multifunctional biocapsules with immobilized cells and enzymes that can be used in several practical applications including alternative energy and removal/detoxification of contaminants (e.g. arsenic) from environmental matrices. In a collaborative project, the group is fabricating biocapsules containing appropriate biological material (yeast and enzymes) that will provide fermentation capacity of the two major products of both cellulose and hemicellulose hydrolysis: D-xylose and D-glucose. The final goal of this project is to develop a technology for the efficient production of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. In the field of biosensors, the group is investigating novel materials and methods for the purpose of increasing the stability of biological elements (e.g. enzymes) and ensuring their functionality in harsh conditions (organic solvents, high temperatures). Examples of materials under investigation are ionic liquids, sol-gels and mesoporous silica. The ultimate goal is to develop biosensors in which biological material remains fully active during manufacturing, storage and use. In a collaborative project with Dr. Stanciu at Purdue University, these biosensors are applied for the detection of food-borne contaminants in food samples. In another project, a multisensor platform is developed for the sensitive detection and differentiation of neurotransmitters in biological fluids.

Nanomechanics and Nanomaterials

Professor Weiqiang Ding’s research interests are in the fields of nanomaterials and nanocomposites. His work focuses on nanostructure mechanics, nanoscale adhesion, and nanocomposites fabrication and characterization. One ongoing project in Professor Ding’s Nanomechanics and Nanomaterials Laboratory is the investigation of the adhesion properties between micro/nano-scale particles and different substrate surfaces.  With custom-built nanomanipulators, the surface interactions between micro/nano-scale polymer particles and a silicon substrate are experimentally explored, in both ambient and vacuum environments. His group is also working on the fabrication and characterization of nanomaterial-reinforced polymer composites.

Nanomaterials and Instrumentation

Professor Suresh Dhaniyala, of the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University, has research interests in the fields of nano-aerosol generation and characterization, particle instrumentation development, nanoparticle-fabric interactions, filtration, aerosol physics, and atmospheric aerosol measurements.  Professor Dhaniyala and his group are working on developing several next generation tools for improved real-time characterization of nanoparticles down to 2 nm in size.  New tools are also being designed for personal sampling and large scale ambient monitoring of ambient aerosol particles.  The development of these techniques will help improve the characterization of aerosol particles and their transformation processes in a range of environments.  Funding sources for these projects include NSF, NYSERDA, NASA, the US Navy, and EPA. 


Phase Transformations in Processing of Advanced Materials

Professor Don H. Rasmussen conducts experimental research focused on (1) crystallization and recrystallization from solution using probe techniques such as thermal analysis and hot stage microscopy; (2) freeze drying of colloidal suspensions to free nano-particles for further processing or as materials for obscurant smokes; (3) characterizing concentrated colloidal systems using fiber optic dynamic light scattering; (4) determination of the stability of oxide slurries in suspension far from neutral pH where dissolution of the oxide is thermodynamically driven; (5) metal particle nucleation and growth in non-aqueous media; (6) nano-scale ceramic particle nucleation and growth, and in the deposition of thin ceramic films; (7) preparation of and protection of electrodes for application in oxidizing and reducing environments for use in fuel cells both PEM and/or SOFC; (8) generation of complex oxidation/reduction catalysts for fuel cell applications and for controlled sesquestration of carbon dioxide; and,  finally, (9) understanding the influence of surface properties of polymers and colloidal particles on the chemical-mechanical polishing of metal and nonmetal films.  His theoretical interests include: (1) measurement of and understanding the single mode character of the dynamic scattered light power spectrum from concentrated colloidal systems using a bifurcated single mode fiber optic probe and (2) using sol-gel processing and critical point and freeze-drying to general nano and meso- porous substrates and catalyst precursors for application in catalysis.

CAMP’s Dr. Dana Barry Receives APEX Award and Coauthors Creative Science Books

Dr. Dana M. Barry, senior technical writer and editor at Clarkson University’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP), received an APEX 2007 Award for Publication Excellence from Communications Concepts Inc. in Springfield, Va. This is the 12th consecutive time that she has won this award, which is based on editorial content and overall communications effectiveness and excellence. Her winning entry, the “CAMP Annual Report Newsletter 2005-2006,” faired extremely well in the exceptionally intense competition. There were 5,000 entries in the competition and approximately 1,500 awards of excellence were distributed in 105 subcategories of 11 major areas. In addition Dr. Barry (who also serves as Scientific Board President for Ansted University) coauthored creative science books with Professor Hideyuki Kanematsu of Suzuka National College of Technology in Japan. Their book (available in paperback and audio versions) Develop Critical Thinking Skills, Solve a Mystery, Learn Science has been published by Tate Publishing in 2007. Also a Japanese Edition of the book has been published by Pleiades Publishing of Japan in 2007.

Figure 9. Model for Cluster Size Distribution


Figure 10. “Smart” signal-responsive materials with built-in Boolean logic based on enzyme-systems associated with responsive polymers .



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