Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bionanotechnology has new face, world-class future at Florida State

20.04.2010
Imagine the marriage of hard metals or semiconductors to soft organic or biological products. Picture the strange, wonderful offspring –– hybrid materials never conceived by Mother Nature.

The applications in medicine and manufacturing are staggering, says biologist Steven Lenhert, the newest faculty face of nanoscience at The Florida State University.

How about a mobile phone fitted with a "lab on a chip" that can diagnose illness? That and much more are real possibilities, according to Lenhert.

"Nanotechnology is already saving lives, and will be crucial to the sustainability of life as we know it on Earth," he said.

Lenhert is the lead author of a groundbreaking paper published in the April 2010 edition of Nature Nanotechnology –– the discipline's premier journal.

At age 32, he is internationally recognized for his innovative work in the evolving field of bionanotechnology –– the union of biology and nanotechnology –– and a related process, Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN), which uses a sharp, pen-like device and "ink" to "write" nanoscale patterns on solid surfaces. Both are capable of producing materials with enormous potential not only for diagnostic applications in health care but also for virtually any field that uses materials, from tissue engineering to drug discovery to computer chip fabrication.

In other words, it is big-deal technology on a nanoscale. Nanotechnology encompasses objects that measure just 100 nanometers or less in at least one of their dimensions. One nanometer equals a billionth of a meter.

"Think of one nanometer as the length that a hair grows in one second," Lenhert said.

Florida State hired Lenhert to further enhance the interdisciplinary cluster of faculty who form the Integrative NanoScience Institute (INSI) –– a key part of the university's ambitious Pathways of Excellence initiative. His cutting-edge work in nanobiology is expected to serve as an ideal complement to the materials science and engineering research already underway there.

Together, they mean to make the institute a world-class bionanotechnology center.

As an INSI member, Lenhert will collaborate on the Institute's cutting-edge research with distinguished faculty from cell and molecular biology, chemistry and biochemistry, materials science, chemical and biomedical engineering, and physics.

The paper he and coworkers published ("Lipid multilayer gratings") in Nature Nanotechnology describes a DPN-based technique he devised at his former institutions, Germany's University of Muenster and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The technique has promising biological applications. It enables the color-coded detection of various molecules through diffraction of light and thin, nanoscale layers of lipids.

"We ended up with a fundamentally new class of material –– in effect, a biometamaterial, which is a biomaterial that doesn't exist in nature," Lenhert said.

"It acts as a biosensor, which responds to the presence of a biological agent by combining a sensitive biological element with a physical device," he said. "Our biosensor actually makes the physical device out of the biological element itself.

"The closest real-world application for this material is in medical diagnostics," Lenhert said. "The idea would be to have a portable, affordable and disposable chip that could allow your mobile phone to diagnose medical conditions that currently require a visit to a doctor and samples being sent to a laboratory. This concept is known as 'lab on a chip,' and it could analyze, say, blood or urine. A home pregnancy test is a similar example that already works, but other kinds of tests still need actual, advanced laboratories."

Lenhert is a chess master who plays competitively, when he's not in his laboratory. Born in Salt Lake City, he received his doctoral degree in 2004 from the University of Muenster. Until recently, he was leading a nanoscience research group in Germany. Then, at a conference in 2009, he came across a Florida State flyer about the Integrated NanoScience Institute.

"It contained what I considered to be the perfect description of my scientific motivation," Lenhert said. "Now, here I am. What's most exciting and impressive to me is the way all the INSI members, from various FSU departments, suddenly feel right at home together because of the word 'nanoscience.'

"As a graduate student I was lucky to be able to work as a bridge between different departments, including biology, medicine, chemistry and physics," he said. "I realized that a lot of the solutions to a particular problem might already exist just across a street. That's why I like the INSI cluster at Florida State, because it is based on this principle."

"Steve Lenhert is not a traditional biologist — he is doing tomorrow's biology today," said FSU Professor Bryant Chase, chairman of the biological science department.

"His training in nanotechnology as well as biology allows him to answer biological questions through novel experiments that could not have been performed before," Chase said. "He is designing new tools with unprecedented applications in science and medicine. He also participates in an initiative called 'NanoProfessor,' which teaches faculty how to make nanoscience more accessible and engaging for undergraduate students. Steve is a 'wunderkind.'"

Learn more about Florida State's Integrative NanoScience Institute at http://insi.fsu.edu/

Steven Lenhert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bio.fsu.edu

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs
07.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies
20.10.2017 | Naval Research Laboratory

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>