Current Research

INSI researcher, Prof. Sourav Saha and his co-workers added anion-induced electron transfer as a new paradigm of anion-recognition and sensing. As described in their JACS Communications (2010, 2011) and C&EN Highlight (2010), they have developed a highly selective and sensitive fluoride ion sensor exploiting unique anion–π interactions.

INSI researchers in the Guan group have developed a novel method for producing micro/nanoparticles based on microcontact printing and layer-by-layer assembly as described in Small (2011). The Figure below shows fluorescence micrographs of some of the particles: (A) “FSU” particles. (B) Butterfly particles. (C) Dots-on-a-pad particles. (D) Porous particles. (E) Mixed particles. (F) A particle (pointed by arrowhead) attached to a live cell. The particles have potential applications for drug delivery and biomedical imaging.

Dr. Ma’s laboratory has been working on gene activated scaffold by incorporating polyplex chitosan nanoparticles into the scaffold.  The gene transfection profiles can be modified by changing the properties of the nanoparticles.  The gene activated scaffolds can be used to direct cell fate and the spatial pattern of regenerating tissues in 3D scaffolds.  The following images are the chitosan-pDNA nanoparticles (A), human mesenchymal stem cells transfected with green fluorescent protein (B), and the scaffold that incorporated with the chitosan-pDNA nanoparticles (C).

The polypeptide chains cTnI and cTnT of the cardiac troponin complex in the blood plasma are considered ‘gold standard’ biomarkers for early detection of myocardial ischemia. INSI faculty members Bryant Chase (Biology), Geoffrey Strouse (Chemistry) and Peng Xiong (Physics), with their collaborators Linda Hirst (Physics, UC Merced), Zhong-Lin Wang (MSE, GaTech), and Jim Zheng (ECE, FAMU/FSU), have developed a semiconductor nano sensor for the detection of cTn, as a first step towards a portable sensing platform for rapid, on-site diagnosis of myocardial ischemia.

Members of the Knappenberger research group are working to describe the nano-structure and function interplay and to use these findings to predict the properties of organized nanocluster arrays. Predictive nano-optics have the potential to provide revolutionary breakthroughs in imaging techniques, solar-energy conversion, national security and trace-level analysis.

INSI researchers in the Schlenoff and Keller groups are investigating polyelectrolyte multilayers as biocompatible coatings.  The figure below shows examples of how rat aortic smooth muscle cells interact differentially with surfaces terminated with different polyelectrolytes including Nafion, PAH, and PAA:PAEDAPS.  Patterns of Nafion printed onto cell repellent surfaces control cell shape and cytoskeleton organization. 

Contact: Joe Schlenoff ( or Tom Keller (

INSI researchers in the Schlenoff group have produced large shapes of biocompatible polymer nanocomposites using “saloplastic” processing, which involves softening and extruding the polymer using salt solutions. The Figure below shows examples of some of the shapes that have been extruded, including textured tapes, rods and tubes. As described in Advanced Functional Materials (2012), the tubes have mechanical properties and dimensions similar to those of blood vessels.

Contact: Joe Schlenoff

Liposomes are lipid nanoparticles that widely used for drug and gene delivery in solution.  Researchers in the Lenhert group have recently demonstrated that microarrays made of lipids printed onto a surface can be used for determining drug efficacy on cell culture models.  The figure below shows an illustration of the process.  The paper published in the journal Biomaterials (2012) demonstrates a first step toward producing a single high-throughput liposome-based screening microarray plate that can be used in the same way as a standard well plate.