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 The Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine investigates fundamental materials structures and properties for energy and biomedical applications.

For energy materials, the research focuses on developing novel structures, via design and thin film deposition, for unique physical properties in nano-photonics, dielectrics, and magnetics. One of the NSF-funded projects deals with spectral-selective, photon-activated new structures for efficient energy materials. Energy science has rapidly advanced in the past several decades, and mainly focused on efficient energy conversion, conservation, and storage via advanced technologies. One critical issue deals with a large amount of thermal loss from public buildings. We developed, for the first time, making of a ”°Green Window”± by applying a natural chlorophyll thin film coating onto glass substrates. Chlorophyll exhibits a unique optical characteristic with a saddle-like shape, i. e. with strong absorptions in the blue-violet and NIR regions while remaining highly transmissive in much of the visible region. This unique property allows for efficient conversion of solar light to heat in the non-visible region, but permits high transmittance in the visible band, which is ideal for window applications. This concept lifts the dependence on insulating materials for making single-pane windows.  Based on the photothermal heating by chlorophyll
Schematic of Chlorophyll-coated "Green Window"
coated glass substrates under white light, the heat loss is significantly reduced leading to U-factors well below those of single- or double- panes without photothermal coatings. The novel concept presented in this study paves a new way for thermal insulation without insulating materials. The engineering implications show great promise in both energy and materials savings for sustainability.

Effective reduction of building heat loss without insulation materials via the photothermal effect of a chlorophyll thin film coated ”°Green Window”±, Yuan Zhao, Andrew W. Dunn, and Donglu Shi MRS Communications Volume 9, Issue 2 June 2019, pp. 675-681

Another project supported by The Ohio Federal Research develops soft magnetic alloys to provide a highly power dense magnetic core with low losses. Research on soft magnetic materials has been focused extensively on the mechanisms by which magnetic properties change, as associated with variations in the ratio of the microstructural length scale (crystallite size) to the magnetic characteristic length scale (correlation length). While the microstructures can be controlled through processing and compositional manipulation, the correlation length is governed by magnetic fluctuations in domains, that is magneto-crystalline anisotropy. Nano-crystalline soft magnetic materials have been developed that share a common microstructural feature, having ferromagnetic nano-crystallites (~10 nm) embedded in an amorphous matrix, which are considerably shorter than the correlation length,
Magnetization hysteresis curves for the Fe77Ni5.5Co5.5Zr7B4Cu powder sample measured at the temperatures indicated.
resulting in a unique combination of large magnetization, high permeability, and low core loss. We obtained the as-spun ribbon with a fraction of nano-crystallites embedded in the amorphous matrix directly from melt spinning (i.e. not through subsequent annealing). Upon annealing and ball milling, we were able to control the microstructure of the fine powders in order to minimize coercivity in a wide temperature range. The powder samples with nano-crystallites were found to be stable with enhanced the magnetic softness e.g., low Hc values at high temperatures.

For Nano-Biomedicine, the research activities deal with design of nanostructures that enable successful cell targeting for tumor therapy, medical imaging by quantum dots, photothermal ablation of cancer cells, and drug/gene delivery by novel designs and intelligent triggering mechanisms. The most recent works concentrate on pulmonary vascular disease that encompasses a wide range of serious afflictions with important clinical implications. There is critical need for the development of efficient, nonviral gene therapy delivery systems. A promising avenue to overcome critical issues in efficient cell targeting within the lung via a uniquely designed nanosystem is reported. Polyplexes are created by functionalizing hyperbranched polyethylenimine (PEI) with biological fatty acids and carboxylate-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) through a one-pot 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide hydrochloride/N-hydroxysuccinimide reaction. Following intravenous injection, polyplexes show an exceptionally high specificity to the pulmonary microvascular endothelium, allowing for the successful delivery
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 („įSMA) for visualization of microvasculature and large vessels.
of stabilized enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) expressing messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). It is further shown, quantitatively, that positive surface charge is the main mechanism behind such high targeting efficiency for these polyplexes. We demonstrated that positive polyplexes are enriched in the lung tissue and disseminated in 85–90% of the alveolar capillary endothelium, whilst being sparse in large vessels.

Highly Efficient In Vivo Targeting of the Pulmonary Endothelium Using Novel Modifications of Polyethylenimine: An Importance of Charge. Dunn, Andrew W., Vladimir V. Kalinichenko, Donglu Shi. Advanced healthcare materials, (2018): 1800876.

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

(MRS Communications 2019)

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

(Advanced Healthcare Materials 2018)

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

(ACS Nano 2018)

4. Nanomaterials for Cancer Precision Medicine

(Advanced Materials 2018)

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

(Advanced Science 2018)

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

(Solar Eng. Mat. & Solar Cells 2017)

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

(Nanoscale 2017)

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

(Theranostics 2017)

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

(Theranostics 2016)

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

(RSC Advances 2016)

11. 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)

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

(Nanoscale 2015)

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

(Nanomedicine 2015)

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

(App. Phys. Lett. 2014)

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

(Adv. Materials 2013)

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

(Small 2012)

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

(Small 2012)

18. Engineered Multifunctional Nanocarriers for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapeutics

(Small 2011)

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

(ACS Nano. 2010)

20. Integrated Multifunctional Nanosystems for Medical Diagnosis and Treatment

(Adv. Funct. Materials 2009)

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

(Adv. Materials 2009)

22. 5f-6d orbital hybridization of trivalent uranium in crystals of hexagonal symmetry: Effects on electronic energy levels and transition intensities

(Phys. Rev. B 2009)

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

(Adv. Funct. Materials 2008)

24. Nanoscale Solute Partitioning in Bulk Metallic Glasses

(Adv. Materials 2008)

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

(Appl. Phys. Lett. 2007)

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

(Scripta Materialia 2007)

27. In Vivo Imaging by Luminescent Nanotubes

(Adv. Materials 2007)

28. Luminescent Carbon Nanotubes by Surface Functionalization

(Adv. Materials 2006)

29. 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)

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

(Phys. Rev. Lett. 1991)

31. 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