Flexible PDMS-integrated Plasmonic Paper as Versatile Nanochip for Metal Enhanced Fluorescence Biosensing

Project UEFISCDI,  PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2019-1959

Project implementation period: Sept 2020 - Aug 2022  

Project Director: CS I Monica Focsan

The project “Flexible PDMS-integrated Plasmonic Paper as Versatile Nanochip for Metal Enhanced Fluorescence Biosensing” (acronym Chip4MEF) aims to design an innovative, versatile hybrid nanochip for highly efficient Metal Enhanced Fluorescence (MEF)–based Point-of-Care (POC) detection enabling the flexibility, miniaturization, portability of the bio(nano)sensors, fast analytical evaluation, reduced costs while achieving a rapid and sensitive MEF detection. Specifically, the originality of this proposal consists in the incorporation of the Whatman paper with pre-immobilized highly efficient anisotropic gold nanobipyramids (AuBPs) or nanorods (AuNRs) in between two polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layers with specific configurations, engineering thus an innovative hybrid microfluidic nanochip with enhanced and well-controlled fluorescence sensing capabilities.


Direct, sensitive and selective fluorescence “turn-off” detection of metallic contaminants from water using photoluminescent gold nanoclusters

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2019-0700

Project implementation period: Sept 2020 - Aug 2022 

Project Director: CS III Ana-Maria Craciun

The goal of the proposal entitled “ Direct, sensitive and selective fluorescence “turn-off” detection of metallic contaminants from water using photoluminescent gold nanoclusters” is to implement an optical spectroscopic method, based on probing the photoluminescence of an attractive class of gold nanosensors (i.e. gold nanoclusters (AuNCs)), into a portable spectroscopic device suitable for sensitive and specific detection of two important metallic contaminants (i.e. Fe3+ and Cu2+) from real water sources. Our one-step approach consists in monitoring and quantifing the quenching of the intrinsic PL signal of AuNCs as a consequence of aggregation induced by specific interaction of metallic ions with the surface ligand of AuNCs (i.e. aminoacids) with affinity for the selected metallic contaminats. The two key objectives of this project are: (1) to assess the sensibility and specificity of synthesized aminoacid-stabilized AuNCs as sensors for the detection of Fe3+ and Cu2+ in solution via PL quenching and colorimetric observation and (2) to perform sensitive and selective detection of metallic contaminants (i.e. Fe3+ and Cu2+) from real water samples via fluorescence “turn-off” mechanism of intrinsic photoluminescence of AuNCs.

Dezvoltarea unui nou agent teranostic pe bază de nanoparticule anizotrope încărcate cu Doxorubicină

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2019-0235

Project implementation period: Sept 2020 – Aug 2022 

Project Director: PhD Sorina Suarasan

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Development of SERS-Active, NIR-Responsive Gold Nanourchins (GNUs) for Stimuli-Triggered Theranostic Applications Against Hematological Malignancies

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2019-0387

Project implementation period: Sept 2020 – Aug 2021  

Project Director: PhD Andra Sorina Tatar

Recently, the development of smart nanomaterial-based therapeutics has substantially advanced mostly due to their capacity to function as alternatives to common approaches. Moreover, the vast array of bio-chemical and physical features like high surface area and interesting optical properties render them useful for multiple purposes such as therapy or improved diagnosis. Among young people, hematological malignancies (HMs) are some of the most common forms of cancer, resulting in unprecedented rates of long-term side-effects such as cognitive and cardio-pulmonary impairments that can greatly reduce their life-quality. The most promising chemotherapeutics employed against HMs at present are Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs), but these molecules still have disadvantages like insufficient solubility, bio-availability and specificity. Hence, with the intention of improving treatment success and reducing side-toxicities, this project aims to design a NIR-responsive urchin-like gold nano-agent (GNU) by encapsulating TKIs in hydrophobic pockets within an amphiphilic polymeric shell surrounding the gold core. By targeting the nanostructures to cancer cells using antibodies specific for an internalizing epitope, the particles are bound for the lysosomal compartment, where they encounter conditions such as hydrolytic enzymes and low pH. The ‘smart’ polymeric shell developed herein will respond and react to these stimuli, ensuring intracellular drug release exclusively within the target cells. Additionally, the GNU plasmonic cores will confer diagnosis value to the system, due to their exceptional optical properties namely a high SERS-active background signal. Tailoring particle morphology can tune their plasmonic response into the NIR ‘biological window’ domain, a feature that, in combination with the time-effective and non-invasive character of the confocal Raman microscopy technique, offer real potential for implementation of this system in further theranostic applications.

New Targeted Optical Imaging NanoProbes for Near-Infrared (NIR) Real-Time (RT) Image-Guided Surgery of Ovarian Cancer

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P4-ID-PCCF-2016-0142 

Project implementation period: 2018-2022

Project Director: Prof. Simion Astilean

Currently, a hot research topic is developing at the interface between physics, chemistry and materials science from one side and biology and medicine from other side, aiming to provide novel nano-tools for cancer treatment. However, despite advances in pre-operative imaging techniques, there is not a suitable intra-operative technique to provide real-time feedback to surgical oncologist to distinguish healthy tissue from malignant lesions and visualize submilimetrical tumor deposits. It is through a collaborative consortium gathering physicists, chemists, biochemists, biologists, oncologists, surgeons, histopathologists that this project addresses a challenging subject aiming to validate new targeted optical imaging nanoprobes for near-infrared (NIR) real-time image-guided surgery of ovarian cancer. Actually, we will develop targeted contrast agents to bind specifically to the FRα of ovarian cancer cells for enabling “visualization” of ovarian tumors by distinct optical signature in NIR. At the end of project, after their careful evaluation on ovarian cell lines /ovarian tumors xenografts / carcinomatose models, will be in position to proceed in the future as viable contrast agent in real-time image-guided ovarian cancer surgery. We focus our research effort to implement NIR optical nanoprobes containing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved compounds as well to promote new related nano-compounds produced in our laboratories. Actually, the development of targeted contrast agent in the NIR wavelengths range is highly relevant and beneficial to cancer surgery as their signal does not compete with background signal of tissue emitted in visible light spectrum and, therefore, a clear and deep difference between healthy tissue and tumoral lesions can be delineated.

Emerging molecular technologies based on micro and nano-structured systems with biomedical applications

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.2-PCCDI2017-0010

Project implementation period: Mar 2018 - Mar 2021

Leader UBB: Prof. Simion Astilean

TehnoBioMed project aims to increase the institutional performance of 6 partners with a rich tradition in research, development and innovation (RDI) joined in a consortium with a strong interdisciplinary character designed to develop emerging molecular technologies based on micro- and nanostructured systems and dedicated to biomedical applications.

The project consortium consists of 6 partners distributed in 3 university centers with a tradition in the RDI activity – Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest and Iasi – and 3 national institutes and 3 prestigious universities. The consortium partners are distributed in three different development regions of Romania.

The project aims to develop new or significantly improved products / technologies / services of which we mention the following:

a. Developing a high-resolution OCT imaging equipment with applications in biomedicine and material science

b. Designing, manufacturing and testing of a nano-ELISA technology

c. Making new systems with improved antimicrobial activity and increased efficiency against bacterial biofilm formation

d. Obtaining compounds/materials with impact in the prevention and control of infection


Nanoparticulate Systems for the Identification of Oncogenes and Delivery of Tumor Inhibitors: New Strategies for Individualized Treatment of B-lineage Leukemias

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-0919

Project implementation period: Jan 2020 - Dec 2021

Project Director: CS I Sanda Boca-Farcau

The ongoing efforts made in the medical and pharmacological research for the development of new effective anti-cancer drug delivery agents represent enough evidence regarding the importance of this field of research and its strong growing potential. Lately, nanotechnology demonstrated to be a promising area for the development of such novel materials and this is due to the unique characteristics of nano-objects. With a strong interdisciplinary character (oncomedicine and nanotechnology), the proposed project aims to extend the very recent results obtained by the project leader and his team on the design of innovative nanosystems for the treatment of leukemias. This project is focused on the development of nanomedicine based nanoparticulate systems that possess multi-functionalities: are capable of identifying specific oncogenes and altogether are able to serve as efficient vehicles for the delivery of tumor inhibitors against B-lineage leukemias. Specifically, we aim to bring an alternative, nanotechnology-based approach for the targeted delivery of tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs that are currently used in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment and to evaluate the efficacy of functional gold nanoparticles as diagnostic agents by tracking specific oncogenes through the follow-up of the optical response of the particles, in vitro. 

Two-photon excited time-resolved photoluminescence imaging and spectroscopy studies on single polymer-stabilized gold nanoparticles towards their applicability as optical contrast agents

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-0088 

Project implementation period: Nov 2019 – Oct 2021

Project Director: CS III Ana Maria Craciun

The project entitled “Two-photon excited time-resolved photoluminescence imaging and spectroscopy studies on single polymer-stabilized gold nanoparticles towards their applicability as optical contrast agents” addresses a challenging research subject related to the intrinsic photoluminescence in plasmonic nanostructures. The project aims to offer a deeper understanding on an interesting second-order non-linear effect, that is the two-photon excited photoluminescence (TPE PL) occurring in a particular type of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) (i.e. gold nanorods (AuNRs)), by performing optical spectroscopy and microscopy studies on AuNRs deposited on solid substrate and inserted in tissue-imitating phantoms. The main objectives of the project are: (i) to investigate the origin of intrinsic PL in single and coupled as-prepared polymer-stabilized AuNRs by performing steady-state and time-resolved TPE PL and dark-field scattering combined microscopy and spectroscopy studies on P-AuNRs immobilized on substrate, and (ii) to demonstrate the ability of the prepared P-AuNRs to perform as optical contrast agents by monitoring their TPE PL in tissue-like phantoms under non-invasive NIR excitation.

Design of hybrid nanoplatforms based on conjugated polymers and gold nanoparticles for plasmon-enhanced photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1898 

Project implementation period: 16 Sept 2019 - 15 Sept 2021

Project Director: PhD Timea Nagy-Simon

With the aim to develop novel nanomaterials for (onco)therapeutic purposes, the project “Design of hybrid nanoplatforms based on conjugated polymers and gold nanoparticles for plasmon-enhanced photodynamic therapy (PDT)” addresses an actual interdisciplinary research topic at the interface between nanotechnology and biomedical sciences. The main goal of this project is to rationally design an efficient and feasible photodynamic therapy (PDT) nano-platform, using conjugated polymers (CP) as photosensitizer and gold nanoparticles as nano-carriers and plasmon-mediated enhancers of the generation of cytotoxic agents. The outstanding imaging potential of both gold nanoparticles and conjugated polymers through non-invasive ultrasensitive microspectroscopic method will also allow intracellular tracking of nanoparticles. The key objectives of the present project targets the (i) preparation and characterization of water-soluble conjugated polymeric nanoparticles (CP-NP); (ii) interfacing conjugated polymers with gold nanoparticles and (iii) evaluation of the imaging and therapeutic potential of the obtained nano-platform.

Designing new, flexible and low-cost paper-based sensing nanoplatforms through plasmonic calligraphy for multiplexed ultrasensitive detection of cancer biomarkers

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-2095 

Project implementation period:  May 2018 -  Apr 2020

Project Director: CS I Monica Focsan

The project “Designing new, flexible and low cost paper-based sensing nanoplatforms through plasmonic calligraphy for performing multiplexed ultrasensitive detection of cancer biomarkers” proposes the development of a new and inexpensive dual Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance - Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (LSPR-SERS) nanosensor with multiplex capability within a miniaturized portable sensing paper-based nanoplatform for the detection of multiple specific targets on the same substrate. Specifically, to perform the selective and multiple biomarker detection using our chip, different active plasmonic lines will be fabricated via a simple plasmonic calligraphy approach using a commercial pen filled with plasmonic gold nanoparticles (i.e gold bipyramids and gold nanorods) as ink. The priority targeted biomarkers chosen to validate our nanosensors are the followings: anti-IgG, Cancer antigen (CA-125) and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) biomarkers. This project represents a real challenge with promising results for medical diagnostics, allowing the development of innovative plasmonic multiplex paper–based point-of-care biochip.

Nanoplatforms for enhanced treatment of cancer by synergistically combined multiple NIR light-activated nanotherapies

Project UEFISCDI, PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0837

Project implementation period: 2017 - 2019

Project Director: Prof. Simion Astilean

The investigation of complex nanoparticles exhibiting anticancer activity by integrating several functionalities into single nanoplatform with diagnostic, therapeutic and imaging capabilities, represents a hot research topic which is developing at the interface between physics, chemistry and materials science from one side and biology and medicine from other side. New nanotherapeutic strategies are being explored in the field of nanomedicine aiming at further enhancement of the potency and safety of cancer treatment. In recent years, our research group has provided several “proofs of concept” of therapeutic mechanisms based on plasmon-induced phothotermal therapy (PTT), photodynamic therapy  (PDT) and nanochemotherapy. In the current project we aim to go further and fabricate a new class of theranostic nanoplatforms to achieve increasing efficacy in cancer treatment by synergistic combination of multiple NIR light-activated nanotherapies. Actually the fabricated nanoplatforms will integrate both intrinsic therapeutic agents based on physical effect (plasmonic nanoparticles, graphene nanosheets or hybrids) and extrinsic therapeutical agents based on photo-bio-chemical effects (photosensitizers, chemotherapeutic drugs). The anticancer activities (heat generation, singlet oxygen generation, drug delivery, etc.) will be triggered under NIR light excitation. Several operational objectives are planned from nanoplatform preparation, characterization, cell-targeting, cell uptake, photothermal performance and singlet oxygen generation evaluation, performing informative measurements by multi-microscopy imaging - toward the final demonstration of synergistic anticancer activities. The expected outcome is highly significant for getting enhanced therapeutic efficacy with lower dose of photo sensitizer (for instance) and implicitly with lower potential side effects.

Plasmonic-Microfluidic Biosensor for Real Time Detection of Relevant Biomarkers (NanoFlu), Funding agency

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-1961 

Project implementation period: Jul 2013 - Sept 2017 

Project Director: CS I Monica Focsan

The project proposes the development of an optical, ultrasensitive, robust sensor for the detection of specific disease biomarkers in order to enable early diagnosis, improve diseases treatment, increase the overall survival and diminish societal costs.  Our sensor is based on the exploitation of optical response of plasmonic nanostructures known as Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR) since this technique has already demonstrated its ability for a label - less highly sensitive molecular detection. The originality of the sensor lies in the integration of optimized plasmonic substrate in a microfluidic circuit that allows miniaturization, portability and minimizing of the analysis time. Colloidal nanoparticles attached on solid substrate and/or nanostructured metallic film will be integrated in microfluidic channels and the LSPR detection process will be triggered by molecular recognition of biomarkers.

The core task of the project will consist in optimizing the sensor parameters in terms of high sensitivity, selectivity and reproducibility. For this, optimization of the nanoparticles’ size and shape, optical and chemical properties of substrate, functionalization and bioanalyte recognition will be performed. The unique characteristics of our Microfluidic - Plasmonic Biosensor for Real Time Detection of Relevant Biomarkers will provide competitive advantages compared to other detection systems currently on the market (standard SPR, immunofluorescence and ELISA assays) and will promote our sensor as a good candidate for technology transfer. Indeed, in this project, we will take all the advantages of current developments in nano-optics and spectroscopy, nanotechnology and surface nanostructuration and Lab-On-a-Chip technologies to design a nanosensor suitable for the identification and detection of specific chemical or biological species in biological fluids. At the end of the project, we will be able to provide an optimized laboratory prototype with unique capabilities and diversified palette of future applications. 


Stem cell therapies for degenerative retinal diseases with the help of nanotechnology

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-1232 

Project implementation period: 2014 - 2017

Leader UBB: Prof. Simion Astilean

Drug-loaded and SERS-encoded plasmonic nanoparticles for targeted and image-guided treatment of ovarian cancer cells

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-1988 

Project implementation period: Oct 2015 - Sept 2017

Project Director: CS II Monica Potara

The project Drug-loaded and SERS-encoded plasmonic nanoparticles for targeted and image-guided treatment of ovarian cancer cells aims to develop innovative methods of promoting multiple functionalities on plasmonic nanoparticles (PNPs) for performing targeting drug delivery and diagnostic-imaging of ovarian cancer cells. Key scientific elements of the project are: (1) to fabricate PNPs that could be monitored inside ovarian cancer cells (encoding the nanoparticles with specific molecules in order to provide a distinct surface-enhanced Raman scattering signal); (2) to load nanoparticles with anticancer drugs to operate as effective therapeutic agents; (3) to integrate diagnostic imaging and therapy into a single nanoagent for developing a theranostic (therapy + diagnostic) agent. The use of theranostic nanoparticles is expected to enable in the future a more effective and personalized medical treatment.  

Label-free, rapid and ultrasensitive immunoassay based on Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) using photoluminescence of gold nanoprobes

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-1991 

Project implementation period: Nov 2015 - Sept 2017

Project Director: CS III Ana Maria Craciun

The goal of this project is to implement a label-free efficient optical biosensing method for the detection of relevant disease biomarkers based on probing the photoluminescence of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) performed under one – and two – photon excitation.  Our one-step approach consists in analyizing the diffusion of GNPs aggregates induced by the interaction of antigen-labeled GNPs with antiboby molecules (biomarkers), in a femtoliter confocal volume, by monitoring the photoluminescence fluctuations. The two key objectives of this project are: (1) Demonstrate the feasibility of employing plasmon photoluminescence for screening the diffusion of GNPs of different size and shape through FCS, and (2) Provide proof of concept for detection of relevant disease biomarkers through FCS – based detection platform by using highly photoluminescent GNPs.

Controlling FRET by surface plasmon resonance in multilayer "core-shell" metallic nanoparticles towards efficient nanoscopic light sources

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2102  

Project implementation period:  Oct 2015 – Sept 2017 

Project Director: CS I Monica Focsan

The project Controlling FRET by surface plasmon resonance in multiplayer „core-shell” metallic nanoparticles towards efficient nanoscopic light sources, proposes to develop a novel strategy for designing a model of multilayer core-shell AuNPs with optimized photophysical properties, consisting of a Au core (i.e. spherical and rod-like shape) and surrounding FRET  pairs (i.e. fluorescent molecules and quantum dots). We will employ polyelectrolyte multilayers fabricated using layer-by-layer assembly as dielectric spacers for precisely tuning the Au core/acceptor/donor distances and to modulate FRET enhancement. We consider that our project represents a real challenge with promising results considering that the integration of NPs with fluorescent molecules into composite nanostructures where the emitters are precisely positioned relative to the NPs surface enables the use of these multilayer core-shell AuNPs as ideal efficient nanoscopic light sources.

Implementation of multifunctional nanomaterials for the early detection and treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia using non-invasive techniques

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2426

Project implementation period: Oct 2015 - Nov 2017

Project Director: CS I Sanda Boca-Farcau

As the acronym indicates, the NanoMEDLeuKemist project stands at the interface between medical sciences (detection and treatment of cancer) and nanotechnologies (nanomaterials fabrication, conjugation with drugs and functionalization with biomolecules). Centered on an original investigation which is based on an innovative approach to detect and treat a specific type of cancer by exploiting the unique properties of nanostructured materials, this project aims to implement a new, nanotechnology-based approach for cancer management on cellular models, in vitro. Specifically, the project proposes to design a type of spectroscopic encoded gold nanoparticles that are suitable for the targeted delivery of drugs currently used for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Combining the optical properties of these nanoparticles with their chemical specificity and biofunctionalization will offer the possibility to guide such nano-carriers at the desired location and simultaneously track them by their optical response in vitro. The capability of visualizing these nano-carriers directly in biological media through non-invasive spectroscopic methods will facilitate the managing of the drug dosage for specific individual administration, which is critical for attaining a maximal therapeutic effect in any drug-responsive tumor system. 

Nano-Gap Arrays Fabricated on Large Areas as Plasmonic Platforms for Controlling Light Emission Processes

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2639

Project implementation period:  Oct 2015 - Sept 2017

Project Director: CS I Cosmin Adrian Farcau

This project, Nano-Gap Arrays Fabricated on Large Areas as Plasmonic Platforms for Controlling Light Emission Processes (acronym GLANCE), proposes to develop some reliable procedures for fabricating large area noble metal nanostructures that exhibit a high density of uniform nano-gaps, the thorough investigation of their optical / plasmonic properties, and advanced studies of photoluminescence of quantum dots placed at the nano-gaps. The final aim is achieving control over the spontaneous emission through surface plasmon engineering. The expected results of this project can generate both new knowledge at fundamental level, relevant for Plasmonics and NanoPhotonics, and experimental procedures with an important potential application in new light emitting devices, future photonic integrated circuits or optical (bio)sensors. The project will also contribute to the personal development of its young members, who will be involved in tackling hot topics, in a competitive and productive scientific environment.

Carbon quantum dots: exploring a new concept for next generation optoelectronic devices

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-ID-PCCE-2011-2-0069 

Project implementation period: 2012 - 2015

Leader UBB: Prof. Simion Astilean

Carbon nanodots (or Carbon quantum dots, CQDs) represent a newly discovered class of nanocarbon materials, inspiring the gradually expansion of research efforts due to the increasing number of identified favorable properties. In fact, in less than a decade (2004) since their first accidental identification in carbonaceous soot, surface-passivated CQDs are already rivaling the position of traditional semiconductor-based quantum dots as top-performance photoluminescent materials, while offering at the same time radical advantages in usability and production costs. Their immediate application in bioimaging is already ascertained, however scarce studies are employing these materials in non-biological fields, even though reports demonstrating the capacity for photo-induced electron-transfer behavior in CQD leads us to the conclusion that they may additionally hold compelling potential in photovoltaics and CQD-LEDs. 

It is the goal of this project to demonstrate the functionality of optoelectronic devices – LEDs and PVs – based on CQDs by thoroughly understanding from experimental and theoretical point of views the electronic, optical and transport properties of the appropriately passivated CQDs. 


Detection and Treatment of Metastatic Chemoresistant Circulating Tumor Cells using Bioconjugated Noble-Metal Nanoparticles

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-PD-2012-3-0111

Project implementation period: Mar 2013 - Oct 2015

Project Director: CS I Sanda Boca-Farcau

The project entitled Detection and Treatment of Metastatic Chemoresistant Circulating Tumor Cells Using Bioconjugated Noble-Metal Nanoparticles (acronym NanoDetCTC) situated at the interface between nanotechnologies (fabrication of nanomaterials, photoinduced processes) and biomedical sciences (cancer cell identification and capture, photoinduced apoptosis of cancer cells) proposes: 1) to develop innovative methods of molecular imaging, diagnostic and treatment of a certain type of cancer by combining the unique physical properties of noble-metal nanoparticles with their chemical specificity and their biofunctionalization; 2) to investigate the photophysical processes and the mechanisms of photoinduced cellular death using noble metal nanoparticles. Cytotoxicity studies will be conducted at all project stages on healthy and tumor cells.

Development of Dual Electrical/Optical NanoSensors on Flexible Substrates by Colloidal Self-Assembly

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2011-3-0134 

Project implementation period: Nov 2011 - Oct 2014

Leader UBB: CS I Cosmin Adrian Farcau

The project titled Development of Dual Electrical/Optical NanoSensors on Flexible Substrates by Colloidal Self-Assembly proposes to develop highly efficient nanoparticle-based (bio)chemo-sensors with simultaneous optical and electrical readout. Colloidal gold nanoparticles (<100 nm) will be synthesized and imparted with specific chemical function. Nanoparticle films of controlled morphology (2D or 3D, planar or wire-like) and compact packing will be obtained by Convective Self-Assembly (CSA) on flexible/stretchable substrates. The optical/plasmonic and electrical properties, the surface enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) efficiency, and their inter-dependence will be investigated in order to optimize these nanoparticle assemblies as dual electric/optical sensors (DEOS) for bio-chemo-detection. The flexible substrate will allow to modify interparticle plasmon couplings and electron tunneling barriers and optimize the sensor's sensitivity. The electric, chemiresistor 'half' of the DEOS will transduce molecular adsorbtion events in a resistance change, while by simultaneous SERS analyses the adsorbed species will be identified based on its vibrational fingerprint. This will make the DEOS an innovative sensor that will outperform both electrical and optical existing sensors. This project will also contribute to multiply the skills and knowledge of their young members by their involvement in a challenging endeavour of scientific actuality within the broader field of nanotechnology.

Biofunctional nanoparticles for development of new methods of imaging, sensing, diagnostic and therapy in biological environment (nanobiofun)

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-ID-PCCE-2008-0129
Project implementation period:  2010 - 2013
Project Director: Prof. Simion Astilean

The NANOBIOFUN project brings together expertises from 8 research centers in physics, chemistry and biology to address the development of innovative methods of molecular sensing, imaging, diagnostic and therapy in biological systems by combining the unique physical properties of noble-metal nanoparticles (nps) with their chemical specificity and easy way of biofunctionalization. 

Key scientific elements of the project are (1) to provide a biological function (cell targeting) to an artificial nano-object in order to tackle a specific biological issue, and (2) to fabricate tailored nano-objects able to transfer / induce a physical signal (light or electric current) to a biological entity (biomolecule and cell) in order to probe its structure and properties in a controlled manner. Specifically, the project addresses the development of plasmon-resonant nps as new optical labels for biological molecules, membrane and cells as well as multifunctional agents for cancer diagnostic and therapy. 

 The project will target the fabrication of gold nps and hybrid metal/polymer/silica/ structures of specific shape, size (2-200 nm) and desired optical properties and realize their conjugation with relevant (bio)molecules / proteins / DNA / biopolymers. As a major result of this project will to demonstrate an original approach in cancer therapy given by the ability of gold nanoparticles to mediate hyperthermia induction to kill cancer cells upon laser irradiation, thereby functioning as selective thermal nano-scalpels. 

The project will contribute on the investigation of biological effects of bioconjugated gold nanoparticles on various normal and tumor cells cultures.an important outcome of this project will be the production of cost effective, ultra sensitive, reproducible and stable nanostructured substrates for surface-enhanced spectroscopy and electrochemical sensors. 


Nanomanipulation of biomolcules by atomic force microscopy

Project UEFISCDI, PN-II-ID-PCCE-2008-0312 

Project implementation period:  2010 - 2013

Leader UBB: Prof. Simion Astilean

Plasmonic nanostructures with applications in biophotonics

Project UEFISCDI, IDEI 477/2007

Project implementation period:  2007 - 2010

Project Director: Prof. Simion Astilean

Nanostructures and noble metal nanoparticles with multifunctional plasmonic properties for relevant applications in nanophotonics, biodetection, and laser spectroscopy

Project UEFISCDI, CEEX no. 71/2006

Project implementation period:  2006-2008

Project Director: Prof. Simion Astilean