Nano Nano: NSERC funds nanoparticle research at U of T Mississauga

Professor Ulrich Krull
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - 10:15am
Carla DeMarco
Strategic Project Grant awarded to Professor Ulrich Krull in Chemical & Physical Sciences.

Can early detection of an infectious disease be identified at home or in the doctor’s office within minutes? Or might we be able to rapidly and efficiently determine whether there are dangerous pathogens in the foods we are about to consume?

These are just a couple of the remarkable possibilities on the horizon that are being developed by the U of T Mississauga’s research team of Professor Ulrich Krull using nanotechnology in diagnostic medicine and in food science. And now a NSERC Strategic Partnership Grant awarded to Krull’s team in the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences and collaborators at the University of Waterloo will support research to develop new processes to manufacture nanoparticles, which could potentially help to make these scenarios a reality.

Krull’s three-year project, “Droplet microfluidic system for production of high value coatings on luminescent nanoparticles,” is a collaboration with Professor Carolyn Ren at Waterloo, and industry partner GL Chemtec Inc. in Oakville, with whom Krull has been associated for over a decade. The project aims to devise a more efficient way to manufacture modified nanoparticles and microbeads that will contribute to the implementation of applications using the nanoparticles. The research team will employ a two-phase water-in-oil method to control chemical reactions to build coatings on the nanoparticles. Nanoparticles will be injected into microdroplets with over 1000 droplets produced per second, where each droplet serves as a reaction chamber for highly regulated control of conditions in continuous flow manufacturing by microfluidic chip technology.

Krull, who is also UTM’s Vice-Principal, Special Initiatives, is grateful for the support of this work that combines aspects of the latest in nanoparticle and microfluidic technologies.

“The translation of a discovery at the bench to a useful technology for society is a process involving many steps,” says Krull. “We intend that this funding support from the federal government will be catalytic in providing Canadian industry with the ability to lead in the development and production of nanotechnologies.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) awards Strategic Project Grants annually. This program aims to increase training and supports fundamental research in specific target areas to help enhance the Canadian economy, environment and/or society within the next 10 years.