Shine PictureOur group mission is to develop fundamental understanding of the physicochemistry underlying nanotechnology for novel applications in Environment, Energy, and Medicine. My research is application-oriented, targeting applied nanotechnology in different areas, including biosensor development, nanocatalysts, water treatment, and drug delivery, but rooted in the fundamental mechanisms in surface/interface science and engineering, such as “adsorption”, “absorption”, “desorption”, “diffusion”, “encapsulation”, and “catalysis”.

For example, by studying the adsorption of oligonucleotide strands onto gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), we established how the electrostatic interaction governs DNA adsorption to gold surfaces, learned the engineering principles to fabricate highly stable DNA-AuNP nanoconjugates, and explored the various issues related to the stability of metal nanoparticles, which paved the way for designing highly sensitive biosensors, gene delivery vehicles, and drug targeting approaches. Our current work in this aspect includes investigating the adsorption of anticancer drugs on various nanomaterials and development of multifunctional theranostic technologies to enhance cancer treatment.

Nanostructured materials-based artificial enzymes are another important research theme in our group. Currently, we are working on biomimetic nano- and micro-materials with catalytic activity. We are particularly interested in the development of novel and efficient photocatalytic materials and devices with metal oxide and hydroxides, as well as various nanocomposites. The objective is to remove (by adsorption and degradation) organic pollutants in water or air, and split water to generate hydrogen with solar light.

Our current research projects include:

  1. Visible light based photocatalysis for water purification (degradation of organic pollutant and microorganisms)
  2. Enhancing radiation therapy with radio-sensitizing nanomaterials
  3. DNA aptamers for targeting delivery of drugs.
  4. Colorimetric sensors for heavy metals
  5. Ecotoxicity of engineered nanomaterials

Click here to view Dr. Xu Zhang’s previous publications.