People » Qun Huo


We are a nanomaterial chemistry group who specializes in the synthesis, property studies and application development of nanoparticle materials. In the bottom-up approach towards nanomaterial development, there are two most important issues to be addressed: one is the synthesis of nanobuilding blocks and the other one is how to assemble the nanobuilding blocks together into materials or devices with expected structures, properties and functions. The property of a nanomaterial is not only dependent on nanobuilding blocks alone, but also determined by the architectural organization of nanobuilding blocks. Therefore, it is extremely important to achieve a precise control on both the chemical structures of individual nanoparticles and the architectural structures of the assembled nanoparticle materials.

Currently we have two major research projects: the first one is controlled chemical functionalization of nanoparticles and the second one is to study their applications in the development of nanoparticle/polymer hybrid materials with well-defined architectural structures and properties. Our group developed a solid phase chemistry method to prepare nanoparticles with single functional groups. Using these molecular nanobuilding blocks, we can synthesize sophisticated nanoparticle/polymer hybrid materials such as “nanonecklace”, “nanochains” and “nanoctopus”. These materials provide excellent opportunities for one to probe and study the inter-nanoparticle interactions in a highly controlled fashion from different dimensions. The long-term goal of these studies is aimed for the development nanomaterials with superior optical, electrical and thermal properties compared to conventional bulky materials.

Our group is the first one to report a unique solid phase approach to synthesize nanoparticles with a single functional group attached to the surface. Such nanoparticle materials are then used as molecular nanobuilding blocks to react with themselves or other chemicals to form sophisticated materials with predefined structures, just like the total chemical synthesis of natural product from small molecular units. This approach gives an unprecedented high level of control on the nanomaterial structures and properties. Our work published in Chemical Communications was listed as top ten most accessed articles in February 2004.

Using the molecular nanoparticles along with other nanomaterials developed in our research, we are developing polymer composite and hybrid materials with improved optical, thermal, electrical and mechanical properties. Our study addresses important problems and questions in composite field, such as the dispersion and adhesion of nanofillers with polymer matrix, interparticle interactions, and the long-term stability of the nanocomposites materials. As a material chemistry group, we use our expertise in synthetic chemistry and surface chemistry to modify both nanofillers and polymer matrix to develop systems with best performance and properties.

Currently our research is being supported by two National Science Foundation awards, CAREER award from DMR (0239424) and an NIRT award from DMI (0506531).

  1. Huo, Q.; Litherland, S.A.; Sullivan, S.; Hallquist, H.; Decker, D.A.; Rivera-Ramirez, I. Developing a nanoparticle test for prostate cancer scoring. J. Translational Medicine, 2012, published online.
  2. Jans, H.; Huo, Q. Gold nanoparticle-enabled biological and chemical detection and analysis. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2011, published online (DOI: 10.1039/C1CS15280G).
  3. Huo, Q.; Cordero, A.; Bogdanovic, J.; Colon, J.; Baker, C.H.; Goodison, S.; Pensky, M. A facile nanoparticle immunoassay for cancer biomarker discovery. J. Nanobiotechnology, 2011, 9:20 (Open Access).
  4. Jaganathan, S.; Yue, P.; Paladino, D.C.; Bogdanovic, J.; Huo, Q.; Turkson, J. A functional nuclear epidermal growth factor receptor, Src and Stat3 heteromeric complex in pancreatic cancer cells. PLoS One, 2011, 6(5):e19605 (Open Access). 6
  5. Chen, H.; Chunder, A.; Liu, X.; Haque, F.; Zou, J.; Austin, L.; Knowles, G.; Zhai, L.; Huo, Q. A multifunctional gold nanoparticle/polyelectrolyte fibrous nanocomposite prepared from electrospinning process. Materials Express 2011, 1, 154-159.
  6. Li, S.; Li, J.; Wang, K.; Wang, C.; Xu, J.; Chen, H.; Xia, X.; Huo, Q. A nanochannel array-based electrochemical device for quantitative label-free DNA analysis. ACS Nano 2010, 4, 6417-6424.
  7. Jans, H.; Jans, K.; Lagae, L.; Borghs, G.; Maes, G.; Huo, Q. Poly(acrylic acid)-stabilized colloidal gold nanoparticles: synthesis and properties. Nanotechnology 2010, 21, 455702-455708.
  8. Bogdanovic, J.; Colon, J.; Baker, C.; Huo, Q. A label-free nanoparticle aggregation assay for protein complex/aggregate detection and analysis. Anal. Biochem. 2010, 405, 96-102.
  9. Huo, Q. Protein complexes/aggregates as potential cancer biomarker revealed by a nanoparticle aggregation immunoassay. Colloids Surf. B. 2010, 78, 259-265.
  10. Bogdanovic, J.; Huo, Q. NanoDLSay: a new platform technology for biomolecular detection and analysis using gold nanoparticle probes coupled with dynamic light scattering. SPIE Proceeding

Our group is strongly oriented towards multidisciplinary research that involves the chemical synthesis, property studies, and theoretical modeling of nanomaterials. Our research team consists of chemists, physicists, material engineer, and mathematician. Graduate and undergraduate students working on this project will learn the general as well as more advanced research tools to develop and study nanomaterials. Students trained in this program will grasp a much enhanced understanding on the significance of nanomaterials in future science and technology development.

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