U of I
scientists apply nanotechnology
to problems in agriculture research
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Scientists in the College of
Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of
Engineering at the University of Illinois are collaborating in
research that will allow them to use the latest applications in
nanotechnology to find solutions for some of the most pressing
problems facing Illinois agriculture, including disease management.
These new research partnerships and
activities are supported by the Soybean Disease Biotechnology Center
at the National Soybean Research Laboratory, the College of ACES and
the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research. Funding for the
center is provided by a special grant from the U.S. Department of
To bring two
groups of scientists together, the Soybean Disease Biotechnology
Center and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology jointly
sponsored seminars and workshops in November and December of 2004.
The seminars included information
about nanotechnology applications that could be used for biological
research. The workshops included hands-on training sessions in the
"clean rooms" at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory on the U of
"Providing interaction opportunities
for these two key groups of researchers allowed them to brainstorm
about how to use nanotechnology in biological research," said Steve
Pueppke, associate dean for research in the College of ACES.
Nanotechnology is defined as the
study and design of systems at the nanoscale, which is in the size
range of one-billionth of a meter. Bionanotechnology is the
application of nanoscale science for biological or living systems.
Pueppke notes that investigators in
ACES and the COE will begin bionanotechnology research, including
development of a nanoscale electromechanical system to study
pathogen and plant interactions that lead to disease symptoms and a
novel system to track grain from the field to the processor.
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Other efforts will focus on a
nanoscale process to extract and analyze genetic material from
single or several cells, which would streamline currently available
procedures, and a detection system for soybean cyst nematode, using
nanoparticles and microfluidics.
"These research initiatives will
allow U of I scientists leverage for nationally competitive
bionanotechnology grants," said Ilesanmi Adesida, professor and
director for the U of I's Center for Nanoscale Science and
In the last eight years, federal
funding for nanoscale research has jumped from $116 million to $1
billion. The National Science Foundation indicates that over 60
percent of the funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative
supports academic research.
Further plans are under way for a
spring 2005 bionanotechnology seminar series that will feature
speakers from the U of I and other key institutions that are leading
the way in bionanotechnology research.
of Illinois news release]