My initial training was in physics and mathematics, but my fascination with the physics I saw in organic chemistry led me to an interdisciplinary graduate program. My PhD is from the biological division of Purdue’s Chemistry Department, but I enjoy all the sciences, without considering the boundaries too much.
Practically, my greatest strengths are with the instrumental methods that allow us to “see” things we never could otherwise. I've used or carried out detailed analysis with an unusually wide variety of analytical techniques, as shown below with estimates of relative strength.
I didn’t know either until I was asked by Eric Russell, a successful businessman, to help his new Biotech startup, Revalesio Corporation. The startup had developed a truly novel therapeutic, but needed scientists with my expertise to help understand why it worked so well. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity this gave me to form relationships with top scientists throughout the world. Many of these experts eventually agreed that nanobubbles (bubbles as small as proteins) provided a reasonable hypothesis, which if correct suggested ground-breaking medical and scientific discoveries. However, that was a big if...
Working with my colleagues, I recruited the top nanobubble scientists in the world as consultants, and I had the privilege of initiating conferences and publications with them. We developed new patents, published some great papers, and I ended up becoming a peer reviewer for ACS Nano, one of the top nanotechnology journals.
Recently, my colleagues and I became nanopore experts. A nanopore is a hole so small that when particles the size of molecules pass through we can detect changes in electric current. The first video illustrates the peaks that we see as particles pass through.
I made the synchronized trace animation, but the video is used with permission (izon.com/trps-technology)
Incredibly we were able to play this game of Nano Pong with particles about 1000 times smaller than anyone had ever achieved, allowing us to resolve its size to atomic resolution. Our goal was to apply this technique to nanobubbles that size.
Scientists have been able to determine the size of objects to atomic resolution for decades, but not within water, calling into question whether what you “see” reflects the natural state. But our Nano Pong method allowed us to resolve objects to atomic resolution in water using much cheaper equipment than conventional methods. That’s why it was patented
The many peaks seen on the right side in the video represent multiple measurements of the particle’s size.
In addition to measuring relatively hard nanoparticles, nanopores can be used to measure soft particles such as oil droplets and bubbles. These can potentially deform while passing through the pore, giving rise to interesting signals. In fact, microemulsions are known to undergo transitions from spheres to rods and other interesting structures. I made the video to illustrate this, by showing the nanopore and various nano-oil droplets in cross-section so as to reveal what’s inside.