Recent Research

The Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine investigates fundamental materials structures and properties for energy and biomedical applications.

Energy Materials

Schematic of Chlorophyll-coated "Green Window"

Schematic of Chlorophyll-coated “Green Window”.

For energy materials, the research focuses on developing novel structures, via design and thin film deposition, for unique physical properties in nano-photonics and soft magnetic materials. One of the NSF-funded projects (CMMI 1635089) deals with spectral-selective, photon-activated nanomaterials for efficient energy materials. We investigate the fundamental photonic physics that dictates the photothermal effects of several highly photothermal nanomaterials including Fe3O4 nanoparticles and chlorophyll under simulated solar light. The research focuses on the relationships between their electronic structures and the photothermal effects for several novel nano systems.

Another project supported by the Ohio Federal Research Network develops soft magnetic alloys to provide a highly power dense magnetic core with low losses. The research includes rapid solidification, crystallization, and fine powder processing for high-temperature soft magnetic materials. By developing ferromagnetic nano-crystallites (~10 nm) embedded in an amorphous matrix, which are considerably shorter than the correlation length, we obtain a unique combination of large magnetization, high permeability, and low core loss.

Effective reduction of building heat loss without insulation materials via the photothermal effect of a chlorophyll thin film coated “Green Window”, Yuan Zhao, Andrew W. Dunn, and Donglu Shi MRS Communications Volume 9, Issue 2 June 2019, pp. 675-681

 

Nano-Biomedicine

Immunofluorescence of frozen lung sections diagram

10x immunofluorescence of frozen lung sections post I.V. injection of DyLight 650 labeled PEI10k-LinA15-PEG3.0. Sections were stained with Hoechst 33342 (nuclear stain), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM1, CD31), and alpha smooth muscle actin (αSMA) for visualization of microvasculature and large vessels.

There is a critical need for the development of effective strategies for small molecule or non-viral gene therapy for tailored treatment at the molecular level. Nanotechnology provides a promising avenue for tailored treatment of these diseases, overcoming the struggles of current regimens. In collaboration with Dr. Vladimir V. Kalinichenko from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, we jointly develop novel formulations of cationic based, non-viral nanoparticles that efficiently target the pulmonary microvascular network for the delivery of nucleic acids. Nanoparticles are created by functionalizing low molecular weight polyethylenimine (PEI) with biological fatty acids and carboxylate terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) through a one-pot EDC/NHS reaction. Flow cytometry shows that polyplexes formed by mixing functionalized PEI with plasmids possess high specificity as well as efficiency in targeting the vascular endothelium in the lung of adult wild type mice with an endothelial targeting of 91.8 ± 1.3 % for PEI10k-LinA15-PEG3. Immunofluorescence shows polyplexes are disseminated throughout the lung microvasculature while sparse in large vessels. These polyplexes provide a powerful basis for selective delivery of nucleic acids for therapeutic treatments.

Highly Efficient In Vivo Targeting of the Pulmonary Endothelium Using Novel Modifications of Polyethylenimine: An Importance of Charge. Dunn, Andrew W., Vladimir V. Kalinichenko, Donglu Shi. Advanced healthcare materials, (2018): 1800876.