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CAMP Annual Report: Page 7

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Soft Condensed Matter Physics and Bio-informatics in the Quest of Nontraditional Ways to Defeat Cancer

 A group led by Igor Sokolov, Clarkson University Physics Professor and Director of Nanoengineering and Biotechnology Laboratories Center (NABLAB), conducts research in the quest of new nontraditional ways to detect cancer. The Clarkson group consists of Sokolov, professor of physics and chemical & biomolecular science; Craig D. Woodworth, professor of biology; Maxim Dokukin, a physics postdoctoral fellow; and Ravi M. Gaikwad and Nataliia Guz, both physics graduate students.


So far, humans have not been able to conquer cancer. Conventional approaches need to be improved. There is hope that the physical sciences can provide the desperately needed new ways to fight and prevent cancer. The group uses atomic force microscopy (AFM), one of the major instruments responsible for the emergence of modern nanotechnology, to study human cancerous cells. Their recent finding of unknown features on the surface of cancerous cells was published in the top nanotechnology journal Nature Nanotechnology. Sokolov's group has also recently synthesized ultrabright fluorescent colloids, the brightest fluorescent particles ever synthesized. These particles were used successfully to detect cervical cancer (the research results will be published in Small, the second top journal in multidisciplinary science). Detection of cancer at the early stages will help to eliminate the fatal nature of the disease.

Dr. Sokolov recently received the Veeco Labs Research Innovation Award "HarmoniX Innovation"   (one of nine Veeco Labs awards for worldwide competition). HarmoniX is a new AFM technique. His group is using this method to advance further in cancer research.  Combining the obtained data with statistical and bio-informatics approaches, they hope to attain the ultimate goal of cancer detection, robust and false-free detection of cancer down to the single cell level.

Professor Sokolov's other research interests include sustainable energy projects (advanced materials for solar energy, materials for saving energy, self-healing materials) and the synthesis of fluorescent particles with changing properties depending on the environment (lab-on-a-particle). He also studies the biomaterials, human teeth and biosensors. In addition he investigates forces between various particles and surfaces in liquids, and does work on the fundamentals of self-assembly.

Novel Polymeric Materials

Professor Sitaraman Krishnan's research group, in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, specializes in the synthesis of novel polymeric materials, and studying the thin film and surface properties of these materials. Current research projects in his group include marine antifouling coatings, polysaccharide microparticles for controlled release applications, polymer nanocomposites for solar cells, polymer electrolytes for lithium ion batteries, and membranes for direct methanol fuel cells. Besides Dr. Krishnan, the research group consists of graduate students, Lin Wu, Venkat Vendra, Lalitha Ganapatibhotla, and undergraduates Matthew Krcha and Ayme Baumler. They are collaborating with Professors Dipankar Roy, John McLaughlin, Raghunathan Rengaswamy, and Ruth Baltus

Thin Film Solar Cells

Professors Don H. Rasmussen and Ian I. Suni are developing new methods for thin film deposition and processing for applications to solar energy.  Thin film solar cells made from CdTe, CIGS and amorphous Si are currently under intensive investigation due to their lower cost relative to bulk Si solar cells.  Professor Suni's research expertise includes electrochemical deposition of thin films. This method is cost competitive and easy to scale up to the large substrate areas needed for electricity generation.  For example, electrodeposition is the preferred method for Cu thin film deposition onto Si wafers.  Professor Rasmussen is developing new methods, including anodic bonding, for post-processing thermal treatment of the active thin films to improve the film crystallinity.  Anodic bonding is widely employed in semiconductor manufacturing, including MEMS devices. 

 Biocomputing Applications 

CAMP Professor Vladimir Privman's recent research has focused on the design of logic functions in the context of biocatalytic processes utilized for biocomputing applications for "digital" (threshold) sensing/actuation. In collaboration with CAMP Professor Evgeny Katz and Professor A. Simonian of Auburn University, response functions desirable for such applications have been classified, and the first experimental realization of a sigmoid-shape response in one of the inputs was reported. See Figure 2. A kinetic model was developed and utilized to evaluate the extent to which the experimentally realized gate is close to optimal. These results will be published in a forthcoming article to appear in the leading journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics 



Figure 2.  (A) Experimental data illustrating the sigmoid response as a function of one of the inputs, and (B) the least-squares fit of the response surface, for enzymatic AND-gate based on electrode-immobilized glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.

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Thirteen  research projects were supported by the Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) Program of New York State's Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) in the 2008 - 2009 fiscal year. Project titles and principal investigators are listed below for each research area

Colloidal Dispersions and Processing
Hydrophilic Silicone Copolymers and Macro-Monomers for Opthalmic Applications-D. Shipp

Particle Transport, Deposition, and Removal

Studies of Adhesion between Polymer Particles and Surfaces- W. Ding

Particle Synthesis and Properties

Improvements in Photovoltaic Cell Efficiencies- D. Goia


Chemical-Mechanical Planarization

IC Industry Research-Y. Li

Supporting Technologies

  • Component Reliability Assessment: Pumps and Control Valves for LMS100 Gas Turbines-D. Aidun

  • Bridge Monitoring Program -K. Janoyan

  • Moisture Indication System Development -K. Janoyan

  • Miniaturized Bio chemical Refineries using Green Chemistry -R. Jachuck

  • Modeling Study and Testing of the Grid Electrostatic Precipitator -J. McLaughlin

  • Fabrication and Marketing of Smart Wind Turbine Blade -R. Jha and P. Marzocca

  • Study of the Engineering Properties of Composite Polymer/Metallic Machine Housings -R. Jha

  • High Speed Automated Composite Fiber Placement -R. Jha

  • Acoustic Measurement of Young's Modulus and Poisson's Ratio for Absorbent Beads -C. Cetinkaya