Micro explosions and killing cancer with gold: nanotech in action

Media releases, nanophotonics

Solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems-cheap and reliable solar power; faster computers; customised materials; vast data storage; more powerful microscopes; new medical therapies-depend on what happens at the very small or nano scale.

To that end, leading international specialists in the increasingly important field of nanophotonics-how lasers and light (photonics) interact with the very small (nano-)-are meeting in Melbourne.

Today you can hear:

Beyond what we can normally see

Satoshi Kawata from Japan’s Osaka University, one of the pioneers of nanophotonics, talks about how developments in the field, especially plasmonics-the study of surface waves of electrons-allow us to create images of objects beyond the limits of what we can traditionally see using light.

Propelling genes into cells

Shubhra Gangopadhyay from the University of Missouri discusses how her team has developed a tiny device to create micro-explosions near cells. The pressure the shockwaves puts on membranes makes them more permeable to the transfer of genes or drugs into cells. And the team has shown a high survival rate in sensitive cells such as those in the spinal cord.

Destroying tumours with light

Zhiming Li from Shanghai JiaoTong University talks about using tiny nanorods of gold covered with highly-branched molecules known as dendrimers to attach to tumour cells. When the nanorods are illuminated with near infra-red light, they heat up and kill the cells.

Sharpening microscopic images

Min Gu from Melbourne’s Swinburne Institute of Technology is working on techniques to develop and improve tiny probes which can be used to produce 3-D images of tissues and to deliver light precisely to kill cancer cells. Alexander Egner from Germany’s Max Planck Institute has been applying nanophotonic techniques to improve the resolution of microscopes.

Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications is running at the Melbourne Convention Centre. It is one of the Sir Mark Oliphant series of conferences on the International Frontiers of Science and Technology funded by the Australian Government and managed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and the Australian Academy of Science.

Other major sponsors include the Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian Research Council’s Nanotechnology Network.

For further information, contact Meg Caffin for ATSE: 03 9864 0909, 0413 949 641, meg.caffin@atse.org.au

Or Margie Beilharz for Science in Public: 03 9398 1416, 0415 448 065, margie@scienceinpublic.com.au

And online: http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/category/nanotechnology