The CREST Nanotoxicity Center that consists of an interdisciplinary group of researchers from 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:
- Silver Clusters: A Theoretical Study of Structure, Spectra, Paramagnetism, and Chemisorption. This project proposes to study the structure and properties of neutral and ionic silver clusters using state-of-the-art theoretical methods. It will address unresolved questions regarding the structure, electron detachment and excitation, and spin states of these clusters. In addition, studies will be made on the adsorption of selected small molecules on silver clusters and the implications for catalysis.
- Environment-Specific Issues in Nanoparticle Physics: Optical, Energy Transfer and Relaxation Processes. 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) energy transfer processes in plasmonic nanostructures, and (ii) effect of environment on relaxation processes in semiconductor nanocryslals.
- Nanomaterial Based Sensing of Environmental Toxin Using hyper – Rayleigh Scattering Spectroscopy. The goals of this proposal are (i) Preparation of pathogen DNA coated nanomaterials of different shapes and sizes (ii) Use nanotechnology and laser technology for targeting specific DNA hybridization by investigating the HRS signal enhancement due to the addition of target DNA to the probe DNA coated gold nanoparticle. (iii) Fundamental understanding of the NSET process on the nanoparticle surface.
- Nanomaterials: A Study of Toxicity Mechanism, Bioaccumulation Potential, and Application for Prediction Modeling. The main research objectives of this project are (i) to elucidate the toxicity mechanisms based on correlations between physicochemical properties of nanaomaterials and end-point responses of a variety of bioassays across different trophic levels, and (ii) to establish a mathematical model to predict the toxicity of nanomaterials and direct syntheses of green nanomaterials.
- Modeling and prediction of Physical Properties and Toxicity of Nanomaterials. This project will use methods of computational chemistry to characterize properties of nanomaterials. QSAR-like approaches will be developed to predict toxicity of such species. An analysis of molecular and physical parameters affecting 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.