Research Interests

Carbon Dots

Carbon dots were discovered at the beginning of the 21st century as an alternative to the toxic quantum dots. However, many tissues and organs have autofluorescence, which interferes with the emission of carbon dots and results in the difficulty and inaccuracy in the observation of carbon dots in vivo. Therefore, our research group currently is interested in the development of long-emissive carbon dots, which will be characterized through well-established techniques such as UV/vis, fluorescence, FTIR X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies, AFM, TEM and zeta potential.

Bone Mineralization Process

Our research group observed carbon dots prepared from carbon nanopowder could specifically target bones using zebrafish as a model. Since carbon dots have small size, high photoluminescence, water dispersity, nontoxicity, biocompatibility and abundant surface functional groups, carbon dots are promising drug nanocarrier to load drugs and deliver drugs in vivo, which can be tracked by their excellent photoluminescence. Therefore, we are trying to conjugate carbon dots with bone-related drugs and use zebrafish (both larvae and adult) as a model to examine whether the drugs could be efficiently delivered to the bones of zebrafish.

Drug Delivery across the Blood-Brain Barrier

Blood-brain barrier is a hard to overcome. It protects the central nervous system but also forms an obstacle for drug delivery. Due to all the favored properties of carbon dots, our research group is focusing on the drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier using carbon dots as drug nanocarrier with zebrafish, mouse and rat as models. The main aim is to deliver drugs to the brain to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric tumor.  

Alpha-L-Fucosidase

In humans, a-L-fucosidase is a liver specific enzyme that is typically only present during gestation. Upon birth, production of this enzyme ceases and the serum levels found in healthy blood is mostly negligible. However, in individuals who develop hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common of all neoplasms of the liver), the enzyme begins to be synthesized again, allowing for early cancer diagnosis through detection of this biomarker. Our goal is to develop a simple, optical assay for the detection of this cancer biomarker, through the use of specific probed-antibodies immobilized onto a solid quartz surface.

Photodynamic Therapy

The lowest excited state of oxygen, singlet oxygen, has been shown to have promising results in medicinal purposes for many years. Typically, singlet oxygen is produced through irradiation of a photosensitizer, which are generally porphyrins, chlorophylls or dyes. Singlet oxygen possesses high reactivity towards a wide range of molecules, due to its strong oxidizing nature. This has led many to use it as a source of cancer treatment through selectively irradiating a tumorous area in the presence of a specific photosensitizer. Our goal is to use this approach externally, for treatments of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and fungal infections found on the eye. Treatment outside the body allows for a wider range of possible photosensitizers to be used, as the irradiation source does not need to penetrate many layers of skin or flesh to reach the infected area.

Printing and Cosmetics

Due to the excellent photoluminescence, carbon dots have been applied in our group to make 2D, 3D printings and finger print. 3D printing was achieved through the embedding carbon dots into a superabsorbent polymer. In addition, many photoluminescent cosmetic products have been developed such as photoluminescent nail polish, sunburn cream and permanent hair colorant.