The New Jersey Institute of Technology received a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation which will go toward studying new materials for nanotechnology that could be used for drug delivery as well as energy-efficient solar cells and sound insulation.
The project being funded is part of a partnership with Yeshiva University that focuses on the fundamental dynamics of cell division and other functions of living cells. Researchers hope their work will establish a platform for the fabrication of a new class of metamaterials featuring new physical properties and functionalities.
The principals in the work are Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at the Institute and Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University. The two previously demonstrated the role of the unique vibrations known as topological phonon edge modes in the functioning of microtubules, which are essential skeletal material in eukaryotic cells.
Topological phonons are quanta of sound or vibrational energy that are confined to the surface or edge of a material.
Using research from the Institute’s previous groundbreaking work in nanotechnology, the Prodans and their team hope to develop new microfluidic devices to stabilize microtubules and drive acoustic modes in them. They will be looking for the first experimental verification of the key role topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement.
"It (the grant) will support transformational research by our world-class faculty, who are pushing the edge of the envelope in biophysics, nanotechnology and materials science,” Joel Bloom, the Institute’s president, said in a statement.
Additionally, the team will be working toward predicting and fabricating a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals.
- here’s the release
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