To achieve its goal, the center will focus on a seemingly mundane element: water.
Researchers at the new Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology will use their knowledge of how nanometer-sized materials interact with waterthe most abundant solvent on the planet and the medium of all lifeto develop new medical therapies and solve persistent problems in environmental engineering.
The Rice center, one of six major Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers funded by the National Science Foundation, is the first to focus on applications of nanoscience to biology and the environment. The $10.5 million grant will enable educational and industrial outreach activities in addition to research. The other grant recipients include Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Northwestern and Renssalaer Polytechnic.
"Our goal is to shape nanoscience into a discipline with the relevance, triumphs, and vitality of a modern-day polymer science into something that people use every day," stated Vicki Colvin, associate professor of chemistry at Rice and co-director of the center. "This not only requires nanoscientists to look outside their own field, but for research leaders in other fields to look for ways to apply nanoscience to their own problems," she said. "Our center will serve as a hub for such collaboration and as a resource for educating the public about nanotechnology."
Research activities will emphasize the interface between nanomaterials and water-based systems, ranging in size from biomolecules and cells to whole-organisms and the surrounding environment. This "wet/dry" interface is key to applications in medicine and environmental engineering. Gold nanoshells injected into cancer cells, for instance, are currently being tested as a cancer therapy. A likely environmental application o
Contact: Lia Unrau or Margot Dimond