The leitmotif of our biophysically oriented studies is oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). We are interested in mechanisms of ROS formation in the presence of various kinds and forms of nano-engineered materials. We focus on nano-ZnO, nano-TiO2, fullerenes and carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which are now becoming the most popularized man-made nanoparticulate systems. In particular, nano-ZnO and nano-TiO2 have found numerous applications in food and construction industries as well as in drugs and cosmetic products. Fullerenes are used as ingredients of certain polymers and as anti-oxidants.
We study the efficacy of these materials to generate ROS in aqueous media as a function of their characteristic features, such as type, primary grain size, crystalline phase, aspect ratio and agglomeration state. In particular, to tackle the mechanisms of ROS generation, as well as to evaluate the toxic potential of nano-engineered materials, we use such techniques as Electron Spin Resonance (ESR), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), optical fluorescence microscopy and spectro-photometry.
Photonic Force Microscope (PFM) is an excellent tool for biophysical studies since it operates in aqueous environment. We have developed the best of its kind, which is suitable to address basic physical questions such as Brownian motion at short time-scales, next to surfaces, constrictions, viscosity inside cells and to perform biomechanical measurements.
The spectrum of our biophysical related activity is listed below: