Rensselaer Research ReviewWinter 2008
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McGown and Yu
In early 2005 Yu joined the research group of
Rensselaer Professor Linda McGown (right), who heads
the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
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Applications

This ability to easily convert the G-gels from liquid to gel, and back again, was a natural fit for the reliable delivery of nanoparticles. Yu’s G-gels proved to be an inexpensive and scalable means to gently, nondestructively disperse single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and other nanoparticles at a high concentration. By simply controlling the temperature, Yu engineered G-gels that can selectively solubilize specific SWNTs, and then be easily removed from the site after the SWNTs are in place. The gels can be tuned to selectively solubilize SWNTs based on different properties, including conductivity and structure.

Another key application of G-gels is their ability to preserve, and even restore, enzyme activity. Because they begin as liquids and form gels at body temperature, the G-gels could be used to encapsulate live cells, enzymes, or other materials for delivery into the human body, with potential applications in drug and gene delivery, as well as implantable devices. Yu has also demonstrated the ability of G-gels to keep certain enzymes stable for months at room temperature, which has captured the attention of cosmetics and sunscreen companies.

Gifted Scientist

Yu joined Rensselaer as a doctoral student in 2004, after earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s degree in polymer science from Nankai University in China. In early 2005 he joined the research group of Rensselaer Professor Linda McGown, who heads the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

“Tony is one of the most brilliant and most creative students with whom I’ve ever worked. The elegance and simplicity of his inventions belie their novelty and ingenuity,” said McGown, who is also Yu’s academic adviser. “It’s been a privilege to work with such a gifted scientist.”

In his time at Rensselaer, Yu has filed for two patents related to his G-gel research, co-authored two journal papers, and delivered 10 presentations. He received the prestigious Rensselaer 2008 Founders Award for of Excellence, as well as the 2008 Slezak Memorial Fellowship and Baruch ’60 Award for Excellence in Energy-Related Research from Rensselaer. He is also an active member and former coach of Rensselaer intramural soccer and basketball teams.

Yu hails from the scenic city of Jiujiang, China, near the foot of Lushan Mountain. He expects to earn his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Rensselaer this spring.

Yu’s wife, Yuexi Wang, is a graduate student in chemistry at Rensselaer. Their daughter, Grace, is 8 months old.

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