Georgia Institute of Technology

F. Levent Degertekin


 

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Micro and nano engineering, acoustics and dynamics, micromachined ultrasonic and opto-acoustic transducers, atomic force microscopy, and medical ultrasound imaging

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Dr. Degertekin's research focuses on understanding of physical phenomena in acoustics and optics, and utilizing this knowledge creatively in the form of microfabricated devices. The research interests span several fields including atomic force microscopy (AFM), micromachined opto-acoustic devices, ultrasound imaging, bioanalytical instrumentation, and optical metrology. Dr. Degertekin's research group, in collaboration with an array of collaborators, has developed innovative devices for applications such as nanoscale material characterization and fast imaging, hearing aid microphones, intravascular imaging arrays for cardiology, bioanalytical mass spectrometry, and microscale parallel interferometers for metrology.

Nicholas Hud


 

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Intercalation-mediated Nucleic Acid Assembly, The Molecular Midwife & the Origin of Life, Nucleic Acid-Cation Interactions, Understanding DNA & RNA Condensation.

The research in our laboratory is directed towards elucidating the fundamental chemical and physical principles that govern nucleic acid (RNA and DNA) assembly. We are interested in how the physical properties of nucleic acids govern biological functions in contemporary life, and how these same properties provide clues to the origin and early evolution of life. We are also applying our knowledge of nucleic acids to problems that are of current importance in medicine and biotechnology. Specific projects include investigations of: 1) the origin and evolution of RNA; 2) cation, solvent and small molecule interactions with nucleic acids; 3) nucleic acid condensation and packaging; and 4) folding and evolution of the ribosome. Our research involves the application of a wide variety of physical and chemical techniques.

Mostafa El-Sayed


 

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A. Nanoscience: Synthesis and Study of the Properties of Nanomaterials of Different Shape: The type of electronic motion in matter determines its properties and its applications. This motion is determined by the forces acting on the electrons, which in turn, determine the space in which they are allowed to move. One expects that if we reduce the size of material to below its naturally allowed characteristic length scale, new properties should be observed which change with the size or shape of the material. These new properties are different from those of the macroscopic material, as well as of its building blocks (atoms or molecules). This phenomenon occurs on the nanometer length scale. Our group makes and studies the properties of these nanometer materials. The properties examined are:

  • Ultrafast electron-hole dynamics in semiconductor nanoparticles and composites
  • Shape-controlled synthesis and stability of metallic nanoparticles
  • Enhanced light absorption and scattering processes, electronic relaxation, and photothermal properties of gold and silver nanocrystals of different shapes

B. Nanotechnology: Potential Use of Nanoparticles in: a) Nanomedicine - Diagnostics and Selective Photothermal Therapy of Cancer: When gold or silver nanoparticles are conjugated to cancer antibodies or other cancer targeting molecules, the cancer cells selectively labeled with those nanoparticles and can be easily detected under a simple microscope due to their strongly enhanced light scattering properties. The fact that these nanoparticles can also absorb light strongly and rapidly convert this energy into heat allows for the selective destruction of cancer cells at laser energies not sufficient to harm surrounding healthy cells.  The concept of plasmonic photothermal therapy has been demonstrated in both cell culture and in live animal models in our laboratory.  In addition, we are also researching the use of plasmonic particles as selective drug delivery and imaging contrast agents. b) Nanocatalysis - Shape Dependent Catalysis: Due to their large surface to volume ratio, nanoparticles are expected to be good catalysts. Since different shapes of nanoparticles made of the same material have their surface atoms arranged differently, one expects them to have different catalytic properties. In our group, we are examining the effects of both the nanoparticle shape and the cavity size of hollow nanoparticles on the catalytic properties of transition metal nanocrystals. We are also studying the shape-stability of these nanoparticles in the harsh chemical environment of the catalytic reactions in colloidal solution. c) Plasmonics:  The intense electromagnetic fields generated at the surfaces of noble metal nanoparticles – localized surface plasmons – are known to enhance radiative and non-radiative processes, as well as energy transfer processes in nearby molecules and compounds.  By combining plasmonic particles with biomolecular photosystems, the rates of important chemical processes, such as retinal isomerization in photosynthetic baceriorhodopsin (bR) and its associated proton pump rate, can be tuned. This property was recently used to enhance the photocurrent from bR by a factor of 5000.  Rates of radiative (emission) and non-radiative relaxation in excitonic systems, such as semiconductor quantum dots and rods, can also be dramatically enhanced by plasmon coupling interactions.  LDL also studies the fundamental interactions of plasmons as they couple to one another in individual (i.e. nanoshell and nanocage) particles, as well as in groups of nanoparticles as their size, shape, distance, and orientation are varied.

Younan Xia


 

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Nanomedicine, regenerative medicine, controlled release, imaging contrast agent

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Disruptive technologies enabled by nanoscale materials and devices will define our future in the same way that microtechnology has done over the past several decades. Our current research centers on the design and synthesis of novel nanomaterials for a broad range of applications, including nanomedicine, regenerative medicine, cancer theranostics, tissue engineering, controlled release, catalysis, and fuel cell technology.

We are design and synthesize/fabricate novel nanomaterials that could serve as: 1) theranostic agents for cancer and other diseases; 2) multifucntional probes for cellular tracking; 3) smart capsules for site-specific, on-demand delivery; and 4) scaffolds for the repair or regeneration of tissues.

M.G. Finn


 

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We develop chemical and biological tools for research in a wide range of fields. Some of them are briefly described below; please see our group web page for more details.

Chemistry, biology, immunology, and evolution with viruses. The sizes and properties of virus particles put them at the interface between the worlds of chemistry and biology. We use techniques from both fields to tailor these particles for applications to cell targeting, diagnostics, vaccine development, catalysis, and materials self-assembly. This work involves combinations of small-molecule and polymer synthesis, bioconjugation, molecular biology, protein design, protein evolution, bioanalytical chemistry, enzymology, physiology, and immunology. It is an exciting training ground for modern molecular scientists and engineers.

Development of reactions for organic synthesis, chemical biology, and materials science.  Molecular function is what matters most to our scientific lives, and good chemical reactions provide the means to achieve such function. We continue our efforts to develop and optimize reactions that meet the click chemistry standard for power and generality. Our current focus is on highly reliable reversible reactions, which open up new possibilities for polymer synthesis and modification, as well as for the controlled delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic agents to biological targets.

Traditional and combinatorial synthesis of biologically active compounds.  We have a longstanding interest in the development of biologically active small molecules. We work closely with industrial and academic collaborators on such targets as antiviral agents, compounds to combat tobacco addiction, and treatments for inflammatory disease.

Ronghu Wu


 

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Our research focuses on LC-MS based proteomics and its biomedical applications. Novel MS based methods are being developed to characterize proteins, especially protein post-translational modifications (PTMs). MS-based large-scale analysis can systematically identify and quantify proteins and their PTMs for the different states of cells or tissues, such as cancerous samples. This may provide a better understanding of the function of proteins, the role that proteins play in physiological and pathological processes, cell signaling, cell metabolism, and the relationship between proteins and cancer.

Terry Snell


 

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Chemical ecology of zooplankton; mate recognition; evolutionary ecology; aquatic toxicology; gene expression in response to environmental stress; aquaculture.

Facundo Fernandez


 

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Mass Spectrometry (MS) is one of the key analytical methods used to identify and characterize small quantities of biological molecules embedded in complex matrices. Although MS has found widespread use, improvements are still needed to extend its application to the grand challenges of this century.

Since starting my position at Georgia Tech in 2004, my group members and I have used an integrated strategy with roots in bioanalytical chemistry, instrumentation development, bioinformatics, and theoretical modeling to focus on questions of great societal and scientific significance. To this purpose, we have integrated with cross-cutting teams devoted to problems that range from explaining the origins of life on Earth and diagnosing cancer at an early stage, to tracking the sources and prevalence of counterfeit pharmaceuticals worldwide. The common theme along these questions is the need for highly accurate tools for quantifying, identifying, and imaging trace chemicals in complex mixtures.

Research in our lab uses state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, ion mobility gas-phase separations,ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography, and new soft ion generation techniques. We investigate the obtained data using machine learning and other powerful bioinformatic approaches. Our group is very dynamic, and each student pursues more than one project at a time, usually in collaboration with other group members or with other research groups at GT or elsewhere. Graduate and undergraduate students are trained in a variety of bioanalytical instrumentation/methodologies, with an emphasis on the fundamentals. We are analytical mass spectrometrists at heart, and strive to answer "big" scientific questions or questions with a large societal impact.

Christopher Rozell


 

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  • Biological and computational vision
  • Theoretical and computational neuroscience
  • High-dimensional data analysis
  • Distributed computing in novel architectures
  • Applications in imaging, remote sensing, and biotechnology

Dr. Rozell's research interests focus on the intersection of computational neuroscience and signal processing. One branch of this work aims to understand how neural systems organize and process sensory information, drawing on modern engineering ideas to develop improved data analysis tools and theoretical models. The other branch of this work uses recent insight into neural information processing to develop new and efficient approaches to difficult data analysis tasks.

 

Charles Kemp


 

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Healthcare robotics, assistive robotics, mobile manipulation, human-robot interaction, intelligent systems that perceive and act.

Our research seeks to advance the capabilities of real robots so that they can provide valued assistance to people in unstructured environments. We work with semi-autonomous mobile robots that physically manipulate the world. Healthcare serves as an important motivating application area for most of our research. Our projects involve research into human-robot interaction, autonomous mobile manipulation, machine perception, machine learning, and haptics. 

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