Discovering novel nano-biology
Nanomaterials are so new that they present many uncertainties in the biological effects of these materials. We are particularly interested in discovering novel nano-biology of nanomaterials. Some of these nano-biology are detrimental to the organism’s well being and some are beneficial. The differentiation of either conclusion depends heavily on our understanding of how nanomaterials interact with biological systems. We approach this work from an observation initiated and hypothesis driven manner. From these findings, we aim to develop nanoparticle specific rules that drive certain cell effect. Understanding these rules help us to design better nanoparticles.
Nanotoxicology of common and uncommon nanomaterials
We are in the age of the nano. Materials in that size range have wonderful and useful properties. However the same materials can also wreck havoc in cells. Our lab is interested in characterizing some of these effects especially those unexpected ones. Specifically we are looking at the nanotoxic effects of common nanomaterials like ZnO, TiO2, Hydroxyapatite, SiO2, Ag and Au based ones. We also welcome all other nanomaterials, exotic or not. We used a variety of cell lines to represent the various major tissues/organs of the body from the mouth to the gut, from the lungs to the kidneys and blood vessels; both on 2D culture systems as well as 3D culture systems.
Transition Metals Dichalcogenides Nanomaterials and their new chemistries
Transition metals dichalcogenides (TMDs) represents a large class of materials consisting of transition metals and either one of the 3 chalcogens (S, Se & Te). In nature, they exists as layered nanosheets with relatively weak pi-pi interactions holding the layers together. To obtain these atomically thin nanosheets, methods are invented to separate out the nanosheets layers by layers in a top-down approach. We invented a bottom-up approach to synthesize ultrasmall crystals of TMDs from their constituent ions in a single pot-aqueous reaction (Ding Nature Comms 2019) in a matter of seconds. These new TMD QDs have many different and interesting properties.
DNA as engineer-able materials
For billions of years, DNA is an ancient computer code for proteins and mRNA in living organisms. We are fortunate to now understand some of the rules DNA follow in their behavior. By exploiting some of these rules, we hope to engineer DNA into structures with a certain design element in them. Currently we are building 3D structures purely out of DNA for various interesting engineering applications. Areas of huge interest are in DNA nanostructures based sensors, both in-cell and outside of the cell; DNA nanostructure based nanomedicine.