Characterisation of Nano-Particulates in Natural Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute of Materials Research


Characterisation of the primary nano-particulate crystallites that make up natural and synthetic structures is of increasing importance in industrial, biological and environmental application. This Advanced Fellowship aims to build on existing studies by the applicant, his collaborators, and his PhD students, and will focus on the determination of the surface characteristics that appear to differentiate nano-particle minerals in natural systems (environmental and biological) from those in synthetic systems. In particular the underlying hypothesis is that dynamic exchangeable (or thermodynamically unstable) surfaces are a consistent feature of primary particles in natural systems that then shape the physical characteristics at the macroscopic level, in particular explaining aspects of exchangeability, turnover, mechanical strength and interaction with organic molecules. The application draws on the latest analytical electron microscopy techniques available in the physical sciences and, with novel application, applies them to the environments of natural systems which are very sensitive to electron beam irradiation. This leading edge structural analysis will provide fundamental data that will then be used to probe the function of the particle in the system. Therefore the application truly serves to advance potential understanding and cross-disciplinary interaction.


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Description I have developed methods to characterise nanoparticles in natural environments such as cells and frozen fluids by electron microscopy. Thus we can explore the structure and chemistry of these particles to explore how these environments might affect the particles' properties.
Exploitation Route I have progressed to a full academic in this area of electron microscopy. Others will use the microscopy techniques developed in this work for similar nano particle, nano toxicology and nano medicine investigations.
Sectors Chemicals,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology