Interstellar Carbon Nanoparticles: From Dull to Shiny

How many of us have ever heard the phrase “Like a diamond in the sky”? There is actually some truth to this expression that astronomers have known for many years. There are in fact tiny, shiny, and colorful diamonds in outer space. One piece of evidence of their existence is their presence in meteorites found …

What Do Gold Nanoparticles Have to Do With Wrinkly Skin?

Incorporation of engineered nanomaterials into cosmetic products including sunscreens, makeups, soaps, moisturizers and shampoos is becoming increasingly more commonplace. Manufacturers incorporate nanomaterials into their products to improve product stability, improve the delivery of vitamins and antioxidants and make products more aesthetically appealing.1 As a result of this increasing use, you may have encountered nanomaterials in …

Using Nano/Micromachines to Help Clean Up Oil Spills

One of the largest oil spills in recent history happened in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, resulting in the blowout of the Macondo well located approximately 66 km off the Louisiana coast. Oil spills, or the accidental release of liquid petroleum into the environment, …

Is triclosan safe? What you should know about this antibacterial chemical

Back in January, I wrote a post about the potential hazards of traditional cleaning chemicals. Based on questions and comments from friends and family, I am going to continue on that path, this time focusing on the antibacterial chemical triclosan. Triclosan gained some media attention earlier this year when a law was passed in Minnesota …

Keeping Our Food Safe – Nanomaterial Style

From reading this blog, you may know that nanomaterials are becoming more and more prevalent in the products that we use on a regular basis. What you may not realize is that nanomaterials are also becoming a growing part of our food packaging.  In this post, I'm going to explore a few ways in which nanomaterials …

How do Scientists Study Complex Chemical Systems?

Much of our work in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology lies in the realm of chemistry. That is to say, our work seeks to understand phenomena at the molecular level. For example, we want to know what molecules we can add to the surface of a nanoparticle to control how stable it is and how …

Nobel 2014: What makes super-resolution microscopy so super?

The awarding of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Dr.s Betzig, Hell, and Moerner (my former research mentor) is a tremendous event! It is almost as tremendous as their scientific targets are tiny: they were awarded the prize for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, a technique for using a light microscope to examine objects as small …

Teeny Tiny Motors That Fit in Your Body

Imagine tiny gadgets wandering around in your bloodstream, travelling into your cells to seek out infections and fight diseases... Does it sound too fantastic to be true? Let’s explore just how close this science fiction scenario is to a reality. Before we get too far into this story, let’s first see where the idea of …

Bright Nanoparticles + Glowing Bacteria = Beautiful, Useful Pictures

One major type of output from university research labs is the publication of scientific results in scientific journals. When we write these papers, our target audience is not the general public; rather, we are writing for experts in our area to tell them what we've accomplished so that they can build on our work in …