Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine


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Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine

Design of Intelligent Nanosystems to Address Critical Issues in Medical and Life Sciences
Search for New Mechanisms, Structures, and Properties in Advanced Energy Materials


DShi Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine Laboratory The Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine develops advanced materials for fundamental studies on structure-property relationships and applications in energy and biomedicine.

Energy materials
Solar-energy harvesting building skin via transparent photothermal/photovoltaic dual modality for next generation energy-free civic structures.
A building skin has been conventionally considered as a weather-resistive barrier without any active functions. This project revolutionizes this traditional concept by structurally transforming the building skin to a versatile energy network capable of harvesting sunlight according to the seasonal changes for energy efficiency. In this new concept, a building skin is considered multifunctionally active for natural energy harvesting, conversion, and utilization. The glass-based high-rise building skins provide ideal transparent substrates for device architecture of energy harvesting nanoscale thin films. A nanostructured thin film on building skin is engineered to offer two major functions: photovoltaic or photothermal, switched alternatively depending on the seasonal needs. In summer, the photovoltaic effect of the coating consumes most of the solar infrared therefore less cooling is required. In winter, the slight increase in skin temperature by the photothermal coating can lead to lowered heat loss from room interior. The goal of this research is to develop a multifunctional building skin capable of efficient solar harvesting for different energy outputs, be it thermal or electric via dual-modality,
spectral selective, seasonably altered. Principally, both photothermal and photovoltaic films share the same optical characteristics: strong UV/NIR absorptions with high visible transmittance, the only difference is the output energy form. The outcomes of the research activities will address the national needs in energy sustainability by entirely transforming the landscape of architectural engineering, civic system design, and energy saving strategy.

Source of Support: CMMI-1953009 ECI-Engineering for Civil Infrastructure
Related Publications:

The Photothermal Effects of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles on Energy Efficient Windows
A new concept of thermal insulation, namely, optical thermal insulation is achieved without any intervention medium such as air or argon, as often used in the conventional glazing technologies. Various transparent, spectral-selective photothermal thin films, based on iron oxide and porphyrin compounds, not only result in sufficient solar light harvest in a wide spectrum, but also allow for efficient conversion of solar light to heat in the non-visible region. If a spectral-selective thin film is applied on a window surface, the skin surface temperature can be increased from 25 ¡ÆC to > 50 ¡ÆC via the photothermal effect. This will in turn effectively reduce the thermal energy loss from the interior, based on the so-called optical thermal insulation. Both Fe3O4@Cu2-xS and the porphyrin compounds are found to exhibit strong UV and NIR absorptions, but high visible transmittance. Upon coating the inner surface of the window glass with a photothermal film, under solar irradiation, the inner surface is heated to reduce the temperature difference, Δ T, between the single-pane and room interior.
This reduction in Δ T will effectively lower heat transfer through the building skin, therefore achieving the goal of energy saving without double- or triple- glazing. These photothermal materials are abundant in nature and environmentally friendly. The fundamental photothermal mechanisms are identified for both iron oxide and porphyrin compounds in terms of their electronic structures. The novel concept paves a new way for thermal insulation without insulating materials. The engineering implications show great promise in both energy and materials savings for sustainability.
Source of Support: NSF CMMI-1635089
Related Publications:,

Processing of soft magnetic nano-crystalline powders directly from as-spun Fe77Ni5.5Co5.5Zr7B4Cu ribbon via ball mill without devitrification
A common microstructural feature of the soft magnetic materials is the ferromagnetic nano-crystallites (~10-20 nm) embedded in an amorphous matrix, whose average size is considerably smaller than the correlation length, L, resulting in a unique combination of large magnetization, high permeability, and an extremely low coercive field. The magnetic softness has been explained by the random anisotropy model which predicts that the local magneto-crystalline anisotropy, K, will have a strong dependence of the gran size, D: K ~ (D/L). As shown by several studies, the correlation lengths of Fe-based alloys are between 40-120 nm for grain size well below 20 nm. In the amorphous state, the structure crystalline features are absent (it is structurally highly isotropic), therefore the magneto-crystalline anisotropy will become negligible, resulting in extremely soft magnetic properties.
This project is focused on developing the soft magnetic alloys to provide a highly power dense magnetic core with low losses. The research includes rapid solidification, crystallization, and fine powder processing for high-temperature soft magnetic materials. By developing ferromagnetic nano-crystallites (~10 nm) embedded in an amorphous matrix, which are considerably shorter than the correlation length, a soft magnetic material is obtained with superb magnetic properties and extremely low cohesive fields.
Source of Support: Ohio Department of Higher Education (CWRU RES511312 sub ODHE)
Related Publications:,

Nano Biomedicine
Disinfection of COVID-19 Coronavirus via Cold Plasma Treatment
COVID-19 is known to be transmitted through respiratory droplets that originate from coughs and sneezes of an infected person. Infectious droplets can land on surfaces surrounding an infected individual, including bedding, floors, walls, and objects that may subsequently be contacted by uninfected individuals. Methods to prevent such transmission have been recommended by CDC, including the use of hand sanitizer, alcohol, and a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite. In practice, most of the disinfectants are in liquid or gel forms that may apply directly on skins and hard surfaces. Soft surfaces of clothing, packaging, and everyday mail are, however, not easily disinfected by applying WET disinfectants. It is therefore critical to develop a DRY treatment that can be easily and frequently applied on these everyday items. This research investigates the effect of cold atmospheric plasma on virus disinfection. Plasma is matter in the form of ions and electrons with significant energies, thus viewed as reactive species that can bombard any cell surfaces resulting in significant structural damages. A gas (air, nitrogen, argon, oxygen) can be electrified and charged with freely moving electrons in both the negative and positive state.
These plasma radicals can interrupt a biological system at different levels depending upon the power applied and treatment duration to: induce amino acid oxidation; reduce enzyme activity, damage DNA and RNA, and break cell membrane. These effects will all contribute to viral transfection, however to different degrees. By studying the transfection efficiency, we will be able to determine the activity of the virus that has been treated by plasma under given conditions. This research is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Paul Spearman, Director of Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children¡¯s Hospital Medical Center.
Source of Support: NSF 2029268 IIP - PFI-Partnerships for Innovation
Related Publications:,

Highly Efficient in Vivo Targeting of the Pulmonary Endothelium Using Novel Modifications of Polyethylenimine: An Importance of Charge There is a critical need for the development of effective strategies for small molecule or non-viral gene therapy for tailored treatment at the molecular level. Nanotechnology provides a promising avenue for tailored treatment of these diseases, overcoming the struggles of current regimens. In collaboration with Dr. Vladimir V. Kalinichenko from Cincinnati Children¡¯s Hospital Research Foundation, we jointly develop novel formulations of cationic based, non-viral nanoparticles that efficiently target the pulmonary microvascular network for the delivery of nucleic acids. Nanoparticles are created by functionalizing low molecular weight polyethylenimine (PEI) with biological fatty acids and carboxylate terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) through a one-pot EDC/NHS reaction. These polyplexes provide a powerful basis for selective delivery of nucleic acids for therapeutic treatments.
10x immunofluorescence of frozen lung sections post I.V. injection of DyLight 650 labeled PEI10k-LinA15-PEG3.0. Sections were stained with Hoechst 33342 (nuclear stain), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM1, CD31), and alpha smooth muscle actin (¥áSMA) for visualization of microvasculature and large vessels.

Fig. C) Immunofluorescent images of lung microvasculature and large vessels for (-)- and (+)-coated polyplexes. (C-b,b¡Ç) nanoparticle only channel for (C-a,a¡Ç) the respective field of view. (C-c,c¡Ç) Nanoparticle only channel for (+) polyplexes showing (C-c) high affinity within microvasculature and (c¡Ç) reduced targeting within large vessels. IF of (-) and (+) polyplexes are taken from different samples imaged under the same acquisition parameters.

Source of Support: Cincinnati Children¡¯s Hospital
Related Publications:,

Nano Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells

Cancer cells may detach from the original tumor and enter lymphatic fluid and/or blood upon formation of malignant tumor. These mobile cells are defined as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and believed to be responsible for metastasis. We have developed a novel approach that can sensitively detect CTCs from whole blood via nanotechnologies. The concept is quite straightforward. It has been found that all cancer cells share a hallmark metabolic pattern: high rate of glycolysis, resulting in a net of negative electrical charges on cancer cell surfaces. The positively-charged Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles can electrostatically bind onto CTCs and magnetically separate them from physiological fluids. Fig 1 shows the schematic diagram of CTC electrostatic capturing and magnetic separating process. Fig. 2 shows the fluorescent image of cancer cell nuclei (blue) and surface electrostatically bound Fe3O4 nanoparticles (green).

Figure 1: CTC Capturing

Figure 2: Nanoparticle binding on cancer cells

Media reports on the novel Janus nanostructures that we have recently developed for targeted drug delivery:

The American Ceramic Society






Representative Publications


1. Photothermal and photovoltaic properties of transparent thin films of porphyrin compounds for energy applications

(Applied Physics Reviews 2021)

2. Solar harvesting through multilayer spectral selective iron oxide and porphyrin transparent thin films for photothermal energy generation

(Advanced Sustainable Systems 2021)

3. Nanoparticle Delivery Systems with Cell-Specific Targeting for Pulmonary Diseases

(American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology 2021)

4. How effective is a mask in preventing COVID-19 infection?

(Medical devices & sensors 2021)

5. Photonically-Activated Molecular Excitations for Thermal Energy Conversion in Porphyrinic Compounds

(The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2020)

6. Optical thermal insulation via the photothermal effects of Fe3O4 and Fe3O4@Cu2?xS thin films for energy-efficient single-pane windows

(MRS Communications 2020)

7. Processing of soft magnetic fine powders directly from as-spun partial crystalline Fe77Ni5.5Co5.5Zr7B4Cu ribbon via ball mill without devitrification.

(IEEE Transactions on Magnetics 2020)

8. Light angle dependence of photothermal properties in oxide and porphyrin thin ?lms for energy-ef?cient window applications.

(MRS Communications 2020)

9. Nanoparticle Delivery of Proangiogenic Transcription Factors into the Neonatal Circulation Inhibits Alveolar Simplification Caused by Hyperoxia.

(American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine. 2020)

10. The S52F FOXF1 Mutation Inhibits STAT3 Signaling and Causes Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia.

(American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine. 2019)

11. Effective reduction of building heat loss without insulation materials via the photothermal effect of a chlorophyll thin film coated "Green Window"

(MRS Communications 2019)

12. Highly Efficient In Vivo Targeting of the Pulmonary Endothelium Using Novel Modifications of Polyethylenimine: An Importance of Charge

(Advanced Healthcare Materials 2018)

13. "Minimalist" Nanovaccine Constituted from Near Whole Antigen for Cancer Immunotherapy

(ACS Nano 2018)

14. Nanomaterials for Cancer Precision Medicine

(Advanced Materials 2018)

15. Fever-Inspired Immunotherapy Based on Photothermal CpG Nanotherapeutics: The Critical Role of Mild Heat in Regulating Tumor Microenvironment

(Advanced Science 2018)

16. Photothermal effect on Fe3O4 nanoparticles irradiated by white-light for energy efficient window application

(Solar Eng. Mat. & Solar Cells 2017)

17. Biomarkerless targeting and photothermal cancer cell killing by surface-electrically-charged superparamagnetic Fe3O4 composite nanoparticles

(Nanoscale 2017)

18. Targeting and Regulating of an Oncogene via Nanovector Delivery of MicroRNA using Patient-Derived Tumor Xenografts

(Theranostics 2017)

19. Targeting Negative Surface Charges of Cancer Cells by Multifunctional Nanoprobes

(Theranostics 2016)

20. A Graphene Quantum Dot (GQD) Nanosystem with Redox-Triggered Cleavable PEG Shell Facilitating Selective Activation of Photosensitiser for Photodynamic Therapy

(RSC Advances 2016)

21. A Multimodal System with Synergistic Effects of Magneto-Mechanical, Photothermal, Photodynamic and Chemo Therapies of Cancer in Graphene-Quantum Dot-Coated Hollow Magnetic Nanospheres

(Theranostics 2016)

22. Photo-fluorescent and Magnetic Properties of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications

(Nanoscale 2015)

23. Disulfide-Bridged Cleavable PEGylation in Polymeric Nanomedicine for Controlled Therapeutic Delivery

(Nanomedicine 2015)

24. Photoluminescence and Photothermal Effect of Fe3O4 Nanoparticles for Medical Imaging and Therapy

(App. Phys. Lett. 2014)

25. Dual Surface-Functionalized Janus Nanocomposities of Polystyrene/Fe3O4@SiO2 for Simultaneous Tumor Cell Targeting and Stimulus-Induced Drug Release

(Adv. Materials 2013)

26. A Versatile Multicomponent Assembly via β-cyclodextrin Host-Guest Chemistry on Graphine for Biomedical Applications

(Small 2012)

27. Engineered Redox-Responsive PEG Detachment Mechanism in PEGylated Nano-Graphine Oxide for Intracellular Drug Delivery

(Small 2012)

28. Engineered Multifunctional Nanocarriers for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapeutics

(Small 2011)

29. Fluorescent, Superparamagnetic Nanospheres for Drug Storage, Targeting, and Imaging: A Multifunctional Nanocarrier System for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

(ACS Nano. 2010)

30. Integrated Multifunctional Nanosystems for Medical Diagnosis and Treatment

(Adv. Funct. Materials 2009)

41. Fluorescent Polystyrene-Fe3O4 Composite Nanospheres for In Vivo Imaging and Hyperthermia

(Adv. Materials 2009)

42. 5f-6d orbital hybridization of trivalent uranium in crystals of hexagonal symmetry: Effects on electronic energy levels and transition intensities

(Phys. Rev. B 2009)

43. In vivo Imaging and Drug Storage by Quantum-Dot-Conjugated Carbon Nanotubes

(Adv. Funct. Materials 2008)

44. Nanoscale Solute Partitioning in Bulk Metallic Glasses

(Adv. Materials 2008)

45. Effects of plasma surface modification on interfacial behaviors and mechanial properties of carbon nanotube-Al2O3 nanocomposites

(Appl. Phys. Lett. 2007)

46. Neutron diffraction study of the structure and low-temperature phase transformation in ternaty NiAl + M (M=Ni, Fe, Co) allows

(Scripta Materialia 2007)

47. In Vivo Imaging by Luminescent Nanotubes

(Adv. Materials 2007)

48. Luminescent Carbon Nanotubes by Surface Functionalization

(Adv. Materials 2006)

49. Processing Dependence of Texture, and Critical Properties of YBa2Cu3O7-δ Films on RABiTs Substrates by a Non-Fluorine MOD Method

(J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 2006)

50. Strontium-Induced Oxygen Defect Structure and Hole Doping in La2-xSrxCuO4

(Phys. Rev. Lett. 1991)

51. Synthesis, structure and superconductivity in the Ba1-xKxBiO3-y system

(Nature 1988)








  College of Engineering

  Materials Science and



Multifunctional nanocarrier for cancer therapy



Luminescent carbon nanotubes by surface functionalization