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Smart Dust Photonic Crystal
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Smart Dust Photonic Crystal

July 14, 2010
Magnetic porous silicon, "smart dust" photonic crystal particles in a vial. These particles, each roughly the size of a human hair, can be used in applications in environmental sensing, biosensing, drug delivery or high-throughput screening for new drugs or genetic markers for disease.

More about this Image The ability of molecules to navigate between membranes is key to many biological processes. For example, the transport of drugs across cell membranes often determines their efficacy. The objective of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported research project, headed by Michael Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, is to build artificial nanostructures to enable the study of the motion and concentration of molecules across interfaces, and to develop means to trap and release drug molecules within a nanostructure. The project is investigating the parameters that allow for the loading and slow release of drugs under appropriate physiological conditions. The work encompasses new methods of trapping molecules into porous nanostructures and new methods of monitoring porous nanostructures using the optical properties of the materials.

The project is being conducted in collaboration with partners Frederique Cunin, Bernard Coq and Jean-Marie Devoisselle of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Institute Charles Gerhardt in Montpellier, France. The Montpellier lab has played a major role in the development and commercialization of liposome-based drug delivery materials in France, and a previous NSF-funded collaborative project expanded the breadth of this effort significantly. The drug delivery and pharmaceutical characterization expertise of the Montpellier group combines with the nanomaterials design and optics expertise of the Sailor research group. The project features the exchange of students between the two labs for durations of two to four months each year. (Date of Image: March 2008) [Research supported by NSF grant DMR 08-06859.]


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