|Physicists receive $1.3M grant
|Written by Ashley Bradley, The Shorthorn staff
|Monday, 04 October 2010 09:09 PM
Radiation entering the country could become easier and cheaper to detect through physics research at UTA. Physics assistant professor Dr. Wei Chen recently received a grant of $1.3 million for research dealing with nanoparticles to detect radiation. Dr. Chen is one of the world’s experts on nanoparticles. (The Shorthorn: Brian Dsouza)
Radiation entering the country could become easier and cheaper to detect through physics research at UTA.
|Physics assistant professor Dr. Wei Chen recently received a grant of $1.3 million for research dealing with nanoparticles to detect radiation. Dr. Chen is one of the world’s experts on nanoparticles. (The Shorthorn: Brian Dsouza)
Physics assistant professor Wei Chen and physics professor Andrew Brandt were recently awarded more than $1.3 million for the research of nanoparticles in radiation detection. The National Science Foundation awarded $253,000 for this year’s research, and Homeland Security will support the research for the remaining four years.
Brandt said the money will be used for tools, equipment and salaries for the detection of radiation.
Chen said radiation can harm and mutate a person’s DNA and potentially cause cancer. He said if a terrorist were to put radiation materials in a city’s water source, the entire city would then be forced to evacuate, and that is why radiation detection tools are important to society.
He said a nanometer is the measurement of a particle. Nano means small, as such, a nanoparticle is a very small particle.
Chen said a strand of hair is about 10,000 nanometers in size and a nanoparticle is normally less than 100 nanometers.
The role nanoparticles play in the research is explained when discussing luminescence technology, Chen said. This technology deals with the energy that is triggered with different electrons. When the energy is released, or radiation rays are detected, the nanoparticles create a light source or glow in the dark.
The researcher must put the particles in small areas to control the outcome of what particles do with one another.
“It’s like when you were younger playing a game,” Chen said. “It would be hard to chase and catch you outside in a large area, but in a small indoor area I could catch you very easily.”
Currently, Homeland Security is using particle crystals to detect radiation, but the crystals are big and must be stored at 1500 degrees Celsius (2732 degrees Fahrenheit) and cost about $500 per crystal, Chen said.
The research being conducted on campus would produce smaller crystals [about one centimeter wide (0.39 inches) and 10 centimeters long (3.94 inches), need to be stored at about 100 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) and would cost approximately $25 per crystal, he said.
Within three years, Chen hopes to be working with companies on mass production of the crystals.
The researchers working in the lab, including physics doctoral student Lun Ma, called the process of mixing the material “cooking.”
“The typical process includes checking the chemical mechanisms, selecting several chemicals, mixing them with water and heating the system to a certain degree,” Ma said.
In the experiment phase, he said they have been trying several different “ingredients” and heating processes, which changes the size of the particle. He said that different sizes give a different energy gap and wavelength, which changes the color of the particle.
Chen and Brandt are planning to have annual symposiums to discuss everything they find.
UT-Arlington awarded $1.3 million homeland security grant
Fort Worth Business Press
A team of UT-Arlington researchers received a grant of more than $1.3 million from the National
Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop various nanoparticles
for radiation detection, the school announced Sept. 23.
The research, which is expected to take five years, could lead to a new type of radiation detector
that would help reduce the threat of nuclear materials being brought into the country illegally.
UTA physics professors Wei Chen and Andrew Brandt will lead the research efforts. The
nanocomposites designed for radiation detection are polymer thin films embedded with
luminescence nanoparticles. The material glows when radiation, such as gamma rays, is
“The broader impact of this proposal is potentially enormous,” Chen said in a statement.
“Development of more effective uranium detections devices could be of immeasurable benefit to
society if it were to help deter or prevent a nuclear incident.”
Detection devices currently used in baggage handling and shipping situations are expensive and
difficult to build, Chen said. The new method would be relatively inexpensive, easier to build and
provide quicker, more accurate results.
The National Science Foundation is providing $253,000 in first-year funding for the new project.
The remaining four years will be supported through Homeland Security.
|UT Arlington professors awarded $1.3 million to develop nanomaterials for homeland security
News Release — 23 September 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Traci Peterson, (817) 272-9208, email@example.com
ARLINGTON - The National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have awarded more than $1.3 million to a team of UT Arlington researchers who will spend the next five years exploring ways to develop various nanoparticles for radiation detection.
Their research could lead to a new type of radiation detector that would help reduce the threat of nuclear materials being brought into the country illegally and used in terrorism.
Physics Assistant Professor Wei Chen, the principal investigator, and Professor Andrew Brandt, the co-principal investigator, will lead the research efforts. The nanocomposites designed for radiation detection are polymer thin films embedded with luminescence nanoparticles. These nanocomposites will glow with light when they encounter radiation sources, such as gamma rays.
"The broader impact of this proposal is potentially enormous," Chen said. "Development of more effective uranium detections devices could be of immeasurable benefit to society if it were to help deter or prevent a nuclear incident."
Luminescent detection devices - called scintillators - currently used in baggage handling and shipping situations are expensive and difficult to build, Chen said. The new method would be relatively inexpensive, easier to build and provide quicker, more accurate results.
"The unique aspect of this proposal is that the nanoparticles are formed into hybrid ‘crystals' that combine the high stopping power and excellent energy resolution of crystals with the potentially high quantum efficiency and short decay lifetimes associated with nanoparticles," Brandt said.
Once tested and demonstrated, the new detectors could cost about $25 for a crystal that is about one centimeter wide and 10 centimeters long.
"The low price would make these nanoparticles competitive with other detector options, especially when combined with the prospects of higher sensitivity for radiation detection," Chen said.
Other UT Arlington researchers involved in the new grant are Alex Weiss, professor and chair of the physics department; Lynn Peterson, professor and associate dean of the College of Engineering; Ratan Kumar, senior lecturer in mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Rasool Kenarangui, senior lecturer in electrical engineering. Also involved in the project are senior scientists Alan G. Joly and Brian Milbrath from the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The grant builds on a 2007 NSF/Homeland Security $355,798 grant obtained by Chen and Brandt in 2007.
The National Science Foundation is providing $253,000 in first-year funding for the new project. The remaining four years will be supported through Homeland Security.
In addition to their research, the team will be including an educational outreach component. Lectures, seminars and an annual symposium are planned to spark student interest in research and promote the idea that nanotechnology, high-energy physics and nuclear engineering can work in concert to further homeland security.
Collaborations between multiple disciplines are on the rise at UT Arlington, an institution of nearly 33,000 students with a rapidly escalating research profile. For more about UT Arlington, visit www.uta.edu.
|Nano-Bio Physics group was granted with one month extension for the funded project on Local Field Enhanced Nanostructured Scintillation Phosphors For Radiation Detection. Totally $20,000 was awarded to Nano-Bio Physics group leading by Dr. Wei Chen, the principal investigator, from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office at the Department of Homeland Security. The research will help to improve the radiation detection for protecting the nation from nuclear and radiological threats.
|Nano-Bio Physics group has set up a new collaboration with Luna Innovations Incorporated, a high-tech company in USA, for developing near-infrared nanoparticles for biological sensors. Luna funded UTA Nano-Bio Physics group for six months with grant of $50,000 for the design, synthesis and evaluation of these nanoparticles in terms of sensitivity and selectivity for specific biological agent detection.
Dr. Wei Chen, the group head of Nano-Bio Physics, visited ten universities and institutes in China in June 2010. The purposes were to recruit students and foster potential collaborations. The photo below was taken when Dr, Chen was visiting the China Ocean Sample Repository at First Institute of Oceanography, Qingdao, China.
Physics professor sheds new lights on prostate cancer treatment
News Release — 31 March 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, (817) 272-2761, firstname.lastname@example.org
ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington physics professor contends that photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, may be an effective treatment for prostate cancer.
Wei Chen, an assistant physics professor, is researching a new photodynamic therapy system that uses light generated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. The research is funded by a $324,529 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. In 2009, Chen received a $525,718 grant from the same program to do similar research on breast cancer.
"Dr. Chen is at the forefront of developing new targeted therapies to treat cancer," said Ronald Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington's vice president for research and federal relations. "And, it is exciting to see our faculty discover innovative ways to improve lives."
The nanoparticles are joined with photosensitizers that can produce a toxin called singlet oxygen. The combined nanopartical and photosensitizers are coated with targeting molecules which can recognize cancer cells. When the combination is targeted to the tumor cells, the light from the nanoparticles activates the photosensitizers to produce a toxin, which destroys tumor cells.
No external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors, such as prostate cancer, because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and they are delivered together to the tumor cells.
Chen said the first step is to develop optimal control of particle characteristics such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and tested for photodynamic activation to include efficacy and toxicity in cultures of cells produced in petri dishes, as well as in live animal studies. The ultimate goal is to make this new technology available to help patients to fight cancers.
The grant is for the work at UT Arlington, but Chen and his research group are collaborating with a number of international scientists. They include Dr. Xiankai Sun, Dr. Timothy Solberg, Dr. Jinming Gao and Dr. Jer-Tsong Hsieh from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Petras Juzenas from Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway, and Dr. Syed F. Ali from the Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research and Dr. Alan Joly from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Chen's research is representative of the biomedical research programs that are propelling UT Arlington on its mission of becoming a nationally recognized research institution.
Chen received his doctorate from Peking University in China in 1992 and joined the faculty at UT Arlington in 2006. He recently edited a three-volume set book on drug delivery through nanomaterials and nanodevices that was published in February by American Scientific Publisher.
Physicist collaborates on radiation detection for homeland security
News Release — 25 January 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817-272-3317, email@example.com
ARLINGTON - Wei Chen, assistant professor of physics at The University of Texas at Arlington, is a collaborator with Agilitron Inc. researchers on a $750,000 grant announced today from the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency for research on Bulk Composite Materials For Detection of Gamma Radiation. Agilitron researchers are King Wang, principal investigator and vice president, and Guiquan Pan and Jinsong Huang, key investigators.
A subcontract of $200,264 was awarded to the UT Arlington Nano-Bio Physics group for the design and synthesis of scintillation nanoparticles for radiation detection.
The detection principle is based on the luminescence of the nanoparticles and quantum dots when they interact with radiation rays such as gamma-rays. These nanocomposite materials are more sensitive, more stable and even cheaper than traditional scintillation crystals for radiation detection.
The research is significantly important as it is related to homeland security, a critical issue to the United States. The potential for terrorist activities has focused attention on the need to detect nuclear weapons and radiological dispersal devices (dirty bombs).
Wei Chen, Department of Physics, University of Texas at Arlington
Nano-Bio Physics group collaborates with Agiltron Inc. on Radiation Detection For homeland security
Dr. Wei Chen as a collaborator, along with Dr. King Wang (principal investigator and Vice President), Dr. Guiquan Pan and Dr. Jinsong Huang (key investigators) at Agiltron Inc. were awarded a Phase-II SBIR grant of $750,000 from DOD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for research on Bulk Composite Materials For Detection of Gamma Radiation. A subcontract of $200,264 is awarded to UTA Nano-Bio Physics group for the design and synthesis of scintillation nanoparticles for radiation detection.
Physics Professor sheds new lights for Breast Cancer Treatment
News Release — 13 October 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817-272-3317, firstname.lastname@example.org
ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington physics professor believes photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, may be an effective treatment for breast cancer.
With the help of a $472,000 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Wei Chen is researching a new photodynamic therapy activated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. Chen, an assistant physics professor, proposes a new therapy system that uses light generated by afterglow nanoparticles.
The nanoparticles are joined with photosensitizers that can produce a toxin called singlet oxygen. The combined nanopartical and photosensitizers are coated with targeting molecules that can recognize cancer cells. When the combination is targeted to the tumor cells, light from the nanoparticles activates the photosensitizers to produce the toxin, which destroys tumor cells.
No external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors, such as breast cancer, because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and they are delivered together to the tumor cells.
Chen said the first step is to develop optimal control of particle characteristics, such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and tested for photodynamic activation to include efficacy and toxicity in cultures of cells produced in petri dishes as well as in live animal studies. The ultimate goal is to make this new technology available to help patients to fight cancers.
Chen has formed a team with national and international researchers. Collaborators for the project are Dr. Xiankai Sun from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Alan G. Joly from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Dr. Petras Juzenas from Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway and Dr. Syed F. Ali from the Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research.
In the summer of 2009, Dr. Wei Chen visited several universities in China for collaborations and student recruiting. The research at Nano-Bio Physics is attractive to audiences there. Many perspective students and researchers showed their interests in our Nano-Bio Physics group for potential collaborations. http://mse.wit.edu.cn/news.asp?id=910
Taking a shine to treatment: O.K. Carter, a journalist of UTA Research Magazine, interviewed Dr. Wei Chen and reported his research activities in the issue of 2009. http://www.uta.edu/ucomm/researchmagazine/2009/features/Right-on-target.php
(alternate link here)
Dr. Wei Chen’s paper entitled “Nanoparticle fluorescence based technology for biological applications” as published in JOURNAL OF NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY in March, 2008 has been identified by Thomson Reuters’ as a Fast Breaking Paper in the field of Materials Science, which means it is one of the most cited papers in its discipline published during the past two years. http://sciencewatch.com/dr/fbp/2009/09junfbp/09junfbpChen/ (alternate link here)
A joint publication from Nano-Bio Physics group was selected a covert story at Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. The article was one of the 25 hottest articles identified by Science Direct in October-December 2008 and was ranked as 4th in Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science.
Petras Juzenas, Wei Chen, Ya-Ping Sun, Manuel Alvaro Neto Coelho, Roman Generalov, Natalia Generalova and Ingeborg Lie Christensen, Quantum dots and nanoparticles for photodynamic and radiotherapy of cancer, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 2008, 60 (15): 1600-1614
Awards for 2008
Members at Nano-Bio Physics group received several awards for the academic year of 2008.
- Research Excellent Award: Dr. Wei Chen
- Outstanding Physics Major Award: Xing (Bob) Zhang
- Scharff Award Scholarship: Boon Kuan Woo
- Bonnie Cecil Thompson Award: Mingzhen Yao
Dr. Wei Chen edited a special issue of Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology on Cancer nanotechnology, Volume 4, Number 4 (December 2008) pp.367-547,
December 3, Research Day 2008, College of Science, UTA
Poster presentation Nanoscale Phosphors For Radiation Detection from Nano-Bio Physics group won the Research day prize of 2008.
Nano-Bio Physics Group Collaborating with Agiltron Inc. on a SBIR Phase-I project “Bulk Composite Materials for Detection of Gamma Radiation” from DOD, HDTRA1-08-P-0034, $100,000. The project aims to design and synthesis nanocomposite materials for radiation detection.
Physics professor researching Nanotechnology to improve photodynamic therapy for breast cancer treatment
News Release — 18 July 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Sue Stevens, (817) 272-3317, email@example.com
ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington professor believes photodynamic therapy, which has been used successfully in treating skin cancers, can be an effective treatment for breast cancer. But the potentially life-saving treatment has been thwarted by the difficulty of light penetration into deep tissue. Wei Chen, an assistant professor of physics, thinks he knows how to overcome that obstacle.
With the help of a $109,155 grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Chen will research a new photodynamic therapy (PDT) mediated by long-lasting afterglow nanoparticles. He proposes a new PDT system with light generated by afterglow nanoparticles with attached photosensitizers. When the nanoparticle-photosensitizer conjugates are targeted to tumor, the light from afterglow nanoparticles will activate the photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy. Therefore, no external light is required for treatment. That means the therapy can be used to treat deep tumors such as breast cancer because the light source is attached to the photosensitizers and is delivered to the tumor cells together.
Chen said the first step is to generate routine synthesis with optimal control of particle characteristics such as afterglow efficiency and longevity. The nanoparticles will be rigorously characterized and then tested for photodynamic activation, to include efficacy and toxicity in vitro cultures of cells.
To learn more about the research, contact Chen at (817) 272-1064.
UT Arlington Today — 3 April 2008
Drs. Wei Chen and Ron Schachar were mentioned in a University of Ulster press release concerning research that deals with the treatment of cataracts. They are conducting the research with Professor Barbara Pierschionek of the University of Ulster. Dr. Chen is a UT Arlington assistant professor of physics and a nanotechnologist. Dr. Schachar is an ophthalmologist and physicist. Read the entire press release here.
February 11, 2008, Nanowerk News
Nanoparticle self-lighting photodynamic therapy for deep cancer treatment
January 4, 2008 Physics News, UTA
Physics Assistant Professor Dr. Wei Chen, approached a lens physiologist [Professor Barbara K Piersionek of the University of Ulster] and an ophthalmologist [Ronald A. Schachar, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Texas at Arlington] to study the biochemical causes of cataractogensis. They use quantum dots made at Dr. Chen’s lab to investigate the diffusion processes into lens. Their work is interesting as it might uncover the causes of cataractogensis and figure out the channels for drug delivery to cure cataracts. The preliminary results of their research were published in a prestigious Journal NANOTECHNOLOGY http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/0957-4484/19/2/025102/ And there are two reports related to their work at Nanowerk and Nanotechweb at links below: http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=3894.php and http://nanotechweb.org/cws/article/lab/32322.
January 4, 2008, Nanowerk News
Nanotechnology treatment for most common cause of blindness becomes feasible
January 2, 2008, Nanotechweb News
Possible role for nanotechnology in the treatment of cataracts
Nanoflowers (snow Flakes) generated through nanoparticle self-assembly by Dr. Wei Chen, UTA Department of Physics were used for cover of seasonal greeting cards by College of science, UTA, 2007
Quantum dots made at Dr. Chen’s group are on the cover of Maverick Science, College of science, UTA, Issue of Fall 2007
August 14, 2007, UTA Today
Professors Awarded National Science Foundation Grant
ARLINGTON—University of Texas at Arlington Assistant Professor of Physics Wei Chen is the principal investigator and Associate Professor Andrew Brandt is the co-principal investigator for a $300,000 three year-grant from the National Science Foundation/Department of Homeland Security Academic Research Initiative. Alan Joly of Pacific Northwestern National Lab is a collaborator.
The investigators will use nano-particles to detect uranium to aid in homeland security. Detecting uranium is a critical concern due its potential for use in nuclear terrorism. Although there have recently been significant improvements in the development of scintillator materials, no current scintillator has the ideal combination of properties.
The researchers plan to develop a novel kind of nanostructure phosphor for radiation detection. They will pursue two avenues for scintillation luminescence enhancement: coating scintillation Nan particles to silver and gold nanoparticles and using periodic surface patterning as in LED enhancement.
The effective combination of the two approaches could yield a multiplicative enhancement factor. This unique approach has noteworthy intellectual merit as improved scintillation devices would have applications in radiation detection and a myriad of other areas.