Parth Nalin Vakil
– A Heart of Gold –
Department – Chemistry and Biochemistry (Graduate Student) –
Research Field -Nanotechnology and Materials Chemistry –
How image was captured – Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) –
Research Impact & Significance – It might be small but this is indeed a heart made of gold… gold nanoparticles that are approximately 7 nanometers (nm) in diameter. The area of the heart is roughly 60 nanometers by 60 nanometers. In comparison, a human hair is approximately 100,000 nanometers wide which is about the same thickness as a sheet of paper that you write on. These gold nanoparticles are nothing more than tiny spheres made up of gold atoms but are still challenging to make with precise control. Such gold particles and nanoparticles in general, are typically characterized using a technique known as Transmission Electron Microscopy (used to take this image) that allows us to observe their projected two-dimensional shapes, sizes and size distribution. These nanoparticles were synthesized using microwave chemistry that enables faster, more controlled, scalable and cost-efficient synthesis of nanoparticles. Gold nanoparticles are used in immunoassays, in nucleic acid detection, in the study of enzyme-substrate interactions, in cellular tension-sensing probes as well as in monitoring gene release from gold nanoparticles in cells. The Strouse Group not only synthesizes nanoparticles, but we also study their properties and more importantly, use them in advancing technologies that range from biomedical to improving magnetic and lighting devices in commercial use day to day.