The CREST Nanotoxicity Center, which includes interdisciplinary researchers in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Engineering, performs comprehensive investigations of nanomaterials that will strengthen the research infrastructure of Jackson State University. The research projects include different aspects of the development and production of nanomaterials and investigations of their toxicity. There are five research subprojects:

  1. First-Principles Theoretical Description of Metal Clusters: Toward a Model of Metal Nanoparticles. This project is directed by Dr. Ming Ju Huang and Dr. John Watts. It studies the structures and properties of metal clusters using theoretical methods. Ab initio theory is applied to gain understanding about principles of clusters’ structures and properties.
  2. Environment-Specific Issues in Nanoparticle Physics: Optical, Energy Transfer and Relaxation Processes. This project is directed by Dr. Tigran Shahbazyan and Dr. Serguei Goupalov. The project involves theoretical and computational investigations of optical, energy transfer, and carrier relaxation processes in metal and semiconductor nanoparticles in an external media, either homogeneous or comprised of individual biomolecules and biomolecule ensembles. Research activities aim at understanding of (i) effect of environment on relaxation processes in nanoparticles, and (ii) energy transfer processes and optical response of nanoparticle-molecule and metal-seconductor nanoparticle systems.
  3. Nanomaterial Based Surface Energy Probe (NSET) for Detection of Toxic Heavy Nano Metal Ions from Environmental Samples. The project is directed by Dr. Parersh Ray and Dr. Glake Hill. The goals of this project are (i) to devolop gold nanoparticle based NSET sensor for ultrasensitive detection of toxic metal ions from environmental sample and (ii) fundamental understanding of the NSET process on nanoparticle surface.
  4. Selecting Green Nanoparticles for Environmental Remidiation and Renewable Energy Applications. This project is directed by Dr. Huey-Min Hwang, Dr. Hongtao Yu, and Dr. Paul Tchounwou. The main research objectives of this project are (i) to develop a safe and efficient immobilized enzymes technology for environmental remediation and renewable energy research and (ii) to elucidate the toxicity mechanisms by using QSAR models to predict nanotoxicity on the basis of bioassays with well characterized molecular parameters.
  5. Modeling and Prediction of Toxicity and Physical Properties of Nanomaterials. The project is directed by Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski and Dr. Danuta Leszczynska. This project uses methods of computational chemistry to characterize properties of nanomaterials. QSAR type of approaches will be developed to predict toxicity of such species. An analysis of molecular and physical parameters effecting toxicity will be performed.

There are strong links among all subprojects of the proposed Center. One of the unique features is the two-way interaction between computational and experimental groups. The theoretical group will model nano-species studied by experimentalists. Based on the data from computational calculations, experimentalists will be able to test new materials that are predicted by theory to possess an enhanced property of interest. The calculated characteristics (e.g. IR or electronic spectra) would allow identification of new species. Experimental studies on toxicity of nanomaterials will provide a data set for the development of new Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) approaches. A request from the QSAR group will prompt an experimental group to provide data on a new series of compounds. A library of toxicity data will be developed for new compounds in order to evaluate their environmental effects.