How I Study Nanoparticles’ Interactions with Biological Soup

Designing non-toxic nanomaterials requires that we understand how those nanomaterials interact with biological systems. Systems such as you me, and all other organisms, contain a “biological soup” of chemical compounds, known as biomolecules. So the question becomes…how do nanomaterials transform once they come into contact with these biomolecules? This question has become increasingly important, especially …

Fungus Amongus – the Nanoparticle Producers

Recent discoveries continue to highlight the many uses of that wonderful kingdom of life, fungus.  Penicillin, a group of antibiotics that changed medicine forever, is derived from the Penicillium fungi (taken from a moldy cantaloupe in an Illinois market). These antibiotics have saved countless lives since WWII and are still in use today. Yeast, perhaps …

Spying on chameleon nanoparticles inside living cells

If you are exposed to nanoparticles, you might think they would move around inside your body unchanged. However, it would be more accurate to think of them as tiny chameleons, constantly changing their properties as they move from one biological environment to another. Nanoparticles’ large surface area-to-mass ratio, which causes them to be highly reactive, …

The Cautionary Tale of DDT – Biomagnification, Bioaccumulation, and Research Motivation

We perform many different kinds of experiments in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology—some that you might expect (like making new kinds of nanoparticles), and some that you might not (like feeding nanoparticles to tiny organisms such as bacteria and water fleas).  The second kind of experiment may seem a little strange to you: why is …

Nature’s nanotechnology, bio-mimicry, and making the superpowers of your dreams a reality

Only over the past 20 years have we begun to harness the unique properties of nano-scale materials, while nature has been using nano- “technology” since the beginning of time to prevent infections, repel water, create colors, and climb vertical surfaces.  Inspired by nature’s advances, scientists and engineers are generating biomimetic applications for nanotechnology in today’s …

Nanomedicine Explainer – My Cat is in a Clinical Trial

I present to you my cat, Graboid. She has nanoparticles coursing through her veins, and those nanoparticles may save her life. Grabby is 14 years old. She was not featured at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival at the Minnesota State Fair, but I still think she’s pretty great. Unfortunately, Grabby has oral squamous cell …