Rensselaer Research ReviewWinter 2008
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Student Developer of Versatile “G-gels” Wins $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize
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G-gels
Yuehua “Tony” Yu, a doctoral student in Rensselaer’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is the first researcher to create binary guanosine gels, or G-gels, with unique, highly tunable properties.
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A student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new method for harnessing the enormous potential of nanoparticles, which could lead to a new generation of medical devices, drug delivery technologies, and other applications.

Yuehua “Tony” Yu, a doctoral student in Rensselaer’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is the first researcher to create binary guanosine gels, or G-gels, with unique, highly tunable properties. The discovery, which could enable a practical, cost-effective, and scalable method for better exploiting the beneficial properties of many nanoparticles, earned Yu the $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize.

The prize, first given in 2007, is awarded annually to a Rensselaer senior or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way, redesigned a system or in other ways demonstrated remarkable inventiveness.

Solving a Challenge

Breakthroughs in nanotechnology hold the promise of touching and revolutionizing medicine, energy production and storage, water purification, electronics, and a host of other diverse fields. A key challenge for many researchers working with nanoparticles is simply getting the nanoscopic materials — some of which measure only a few billionths of a meter in length — where they need to go.

Using liquid to disperse nanoparticles seems like a natural fit, but most materials have a tendency to aggregate, or clump together, when placed in liquids. Current solutions for properly dispersing nanomaterials in liquid often impact the materials’ properties, cause irreversible damage, or result in concentrations too low to be effective.

To address this problem, Yu investigated guanosine gels, or “G-gels.” Yu was the first researcher to develop a G-gel comprised of more than one guanosine compound. He discovered that some of these new binary G-gels were liquid at low temperature, but formed firm gels when heated to room or body temperature. Further study showed that binary G-gels were highly tunable.

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“Student Developer of Versatile “G-gels”
Wins $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize”
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