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Imagine the marriage of hard metals or semiconductors to soft organic or biological products. Picture the strange, wonderful offspring –– hybrid materials never conceived by Mother Nature.

The applications in medicine and manufacturing are staggering, says biologist Steven Lenhert, the newest faculty face of nanoscience at The Florida State University.

How about a mobile phone fitted with a “lab on a chip” that can diagnose illness? That and much more are real possibilities, according to Lenhert.

“Nanotechnology is already saving lives, and will be crucial to the sustainability of life as we know it on Earth,” he said.

Lenhert is the lead author of a groundbreaking paper published in the April 2010 edition of Nature Nanotechnology –– the discipline’s premier journal.

At age 32, he is internationally recognized for his innovative work in the evolving field of bionanotechnology –– the union of biology and nanotechnology –– and a related process, Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN), which uses a sharp, pen-like device and “ink” to “write” nanoscale patterns on solid surfaces. Both are capable of producing materials with enormous potential not only for diagnostic applications in health care but also for virtually any field that uses materials, from tissue engineering to drug discovery to computer chip fabrication.

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