Chemist Studies Nanowires for Biomedical Applications

Release Date: May 13, 2005 This content is archived.


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Chemist David Watson has won a prestigious award for his study of nanomaterials

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A University at Buffalo assistant professor is conducting fundamental studies on nanomaterials that may in the future boost detection of important biomolecules for medical or homeland security applications, thanks to a $200,000 James D. Watson Investigator grant from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR).

David F. Watson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Chemistry (and who is no relation to the Watson award), is one of 10 scientists throughout New York State who were awarded grants under the $2 million program.

The Watson initiative is part of the $225 million Generating Employment through New York State Science (Gen*NY*sis) program, created to maximize the potential of life-sciences research conducted at New York's research institutions.

Watson is an inorganic chemist who fabricates nanostructured materials, such as extremely thin nanowires, which typically have a diameter about 1,000 thinner than a human hair.

"The basic advantage of using nanomaterials and nanowires for these applications is that because they have a very high surface area, as compared, say, to a bulk semiconductor, subtle changes in chemical composition at their surface can induce significant changes in their electronic or optical properties," Watson explained.

"These properties make them extremely sensitive and, therefore, excellent candidates as detectors for various biomolecules," he said.

He will use the grant to study how these nanowires may be used to electrically or optically detect disease markers or chemical or biological warfare agents at very low concentrations.

A UB faculty member since 2004, Watson graduated from Haverford College and earned a master's degree from Northwestern University and a doctoral degree from Princeton University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at The Johns Hopkins University.

Watson lives in Amherst.

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