Understanding Basics Enable Application
As a general theme, the study of the basic chemistry behind the synthesis of complex nanoparticles is used to perfect or manipulate material preparation to enable better applications of said materials.
Mechanistic Studies for Synthesis of Luminescent Nanocrystals
Understanding the mechanism by which nanocrystals form enables the opportunity for synthetic manipulation to create novel materials with optimal chemical yield, optoelectronic properties, and relevant spatial features (e.g. inorganic shell passivation, crystal structure). In particular, ternary and quaternary material nanocrystals present a complex system to study, as each of the multiple components possess their own differing degrees of reactivity and reactions in which they are competent to participate.
Synthesis of Metal Oxide Nanocrystals
Metal oxide nanocrystals formed by high-temperature synthesis have shown interesting magnetic properties via composition and size tuning in research spanning many decades. However, the attention that semiconductor nanocrystals have received in regard to the careful surface control has not been attended for metal oxide nanocrystals. Metal oxide nanocrystals are often wide-band gap semiconductors, themselves--with sufficient synthetic control, it should be possible to observe quantum confinement of carriers in metal oxide nanocrystals. Confined metal oxide nanocrystals should behave like traditional quantum dots while being composed of low-toxicity materials, which would invite a host of relevant real-world applications for such materials.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging modality capable of three-dimensional full-body scans of soft tissue. MRI enables diagnosis of a variety of conditions and tumor detection. Use of contrast agents that enhance nearby proton relaxation rates allows for observation of biological activity and enhanced contrast, helping doctors in diagnosis. Through exploration of the small particle (<3 nm) parameter space, the basic physics of magnetic nanoparticles and their performance in vivo, as particles of this size are at the cusp of particles small enough to be renally cleared, will be studied. Furthermore, the space for novel metal complex MRI contrast agents has been poorly explored, with the clinical need to replace Lanthanide-based MRI contrast agents growing with each new report of Lanthanide deposition.