Shuming Nie holds a joint appointment at Georgia Tech and Emory University
Biomedical scientist Shuming Nie is testing the use of nanoparticles called quantum dots to dramatically improve clinical diagnostic tests for the early detection of cancer. The tiny particles glow and act as markers on cells and genes, giving scientists the ability to rapidly analyze biopsy tissue from cancer patients so that doctors can provide the most effective therapy available.
Nie, a chemist by training, is an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering – a joint department operated by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Emory University – and director of cancer nanotechnology at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.
His research focuses on the field of nanotechnolgy, in which scientists build devices and materials one atom or molecule at a time, creating structures that take on new properties by virtue of their miniature size. The basic building block of nanotechnology is a nanoparticle, and a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
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