Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

UNO Researchers Develop Process to Make Microscopic Gold 'Peas in a Pod'

University of New Orleans researchers have developed a process for the fabrication of complex microscopic gold structures that mimic peas in a pod. The research, which will appear in a prestigious European chemistry journal, is significant because it could lead to new advances in a variety of areas including cancer treatment.

The process was developed by Shiv Adireddy, working under the direction of John Wiley, a professor of chemistry and the associate director of UNO's Advanced Materials Research Institute.

These very tiny—also known as nanoscale—structures are about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. They consist of chains of particles (the peas) surrounded by a ceramic-like sheet (the pod). While the Wiley research group had previously shown the formation of peapod structures with one type of pea, the ability to make more complex multi-component peapods, especially with those with gold, represents a major scientific advance.

"The importance of these materials comes from the high level of control that we can exhibit at the nanoscale," Wiley said. "With very small objects, it can be quite difficult to direct their assembly into specific architectures. Over the last two years, my group has developed some special ways of arranging small objects into useful packages. If we are going to make important devices that are very small—whether it's optical, electronic, sensors or medical devices, then this level of control is needed."

According to Wiley, gold's importance comes from its use in a variety of areas as a good conductor and a receiver for light. Recently researchers have used gold nanoparticles in cancer therapies where they shine light on gold nanoparticles, the particles resonate and, in turn, kill the cancer cells, Wiley said.

The research will be published in "Angewandte Chemie, International Edition," one of the leading journals of chemistry in the world.

According to the journal's editor, the UNO researchers' results are "highly important" or even "very important," a review that is bestowed upon less than 10 percent of submitted manuscripts.

Adireddy earned a doctorate from UNO in December 2013 based on this research. Wiley has been a faculty member at UNO for 20 years and holds the distinguished title of president's research professor. The research into peapod structures was started in 2011 under the Louisiana Board of Regents Post-Katrina Support Fund.

UNO's Advanced Materials Research Institute is a multidisciplinary research institute that provides a unique opportunity to develop novel research ideas that ultimately involve the government, private, and academic sectors in the conception and development of research programs.


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