Functional Nanomaterials Laboratory


Nanoparticles as Remote  Optical Transducers for Biomedical Applications

Aside from the ability to detect and record optical signatures (e.g. imaging) from nanomaterials, some nanomaterials such as upconverting nanocrystals can serves as "internal" light sources, which can be switched by near infrared light sources. Offering deeper penetration depth these nanoparticles can be used for biomedical applications including from photodynamic therapy to light triggered on-demand drug release. Additionally, these particles can be used for biophysical investigations related to photobiomodulation.

Elucidating  Combinitorial Effects of Nanoparticles and Electromagnetic Stimulation

The interface between materials and biological systems are an ever growing area of interest. At the nanoscale, interesting stimulatory effects can occur at the when we add electromagnetic fields. Through this effort we are trying to isolate and delineate additive, antagonistic or synergistic effects of combining various nanoparticles and electromagnetic stimulation (e.g. laser, microwaves, radio, etc.) on cells. 

Figure caption: Nanoparticles cooperatively assist in stimulation in neuron stimulation (left). Gold nanoparticles uptaken by neuroblastoma cells (right).

Light Assisted Synthesis of Nanoparticles & Applications

The use of light, including ultraviolet light and pulsed lasers, in the synthesis of nanomaterials has been a continuous area of interest due to its ability to control shape, size and composition of nanomaterials. The main advantage of the laser assisted synthesis methods is the possibility to fabricate surfactant-free with an accessible surface, rendering them attractive materials for solar cell, catalytic and therapeutic treatments and biosensing applications. We design experimental conditions to synthesize nanomaterials through the use of a pulsed laser, study their properties, and then investigate their application in the areas of energy or biomedical research.

Figure caption: Gold nanoparticles and microparticles produced using biopolymer templating resulting in various shapes and sizes (top).

Figure caption:Selenium quantum dots synthesized by laser ablation.

Figure caption: TEM image of selenium nanoparticles interaction with Candida albicans. Further test revealed the superb antimicrobial affects of these nanoparticles

 Figure caption: Dichalcogenide nanosheets produced by laser ablation in liquids.

Photoacoustic (Optoacoustic) Characterization and Signatures of Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications

We are exploring a wide variety of nanoparticles for both photoacoustic (optoacoustic) sensing and imaging applications. We have recently reported on the use of the nanoparticles for reactive oxidative species (ROS) sensing using an All Optical Photoacoustic Sensing (AOPAS) techniques that probes photoacoustic signatures from gold nanoparticles in the small footprint of an optical beam inctead of bulky transducers. The additional advantage  of this techniques allows one to detect high frequency acoustic signatures (>100 MHz) which are inherent to nanoscale structures. We also investigate nanoparticles not tradiaitonally used in photoacoutic applciations. These include iron oxide, ferroelectric materials and luminecent nanoparticles using optoacoustic techniques. 

 Figure Caption: Scheme for nanoparticle based oxidative stress sensing (Left). Experimental setup for in vitro photoacoustic sensing (Right, Top). Change in photoacoustic response of nanoparticles in the absence (green) and presence (red) of oxidative stress biomarkers (Right, Bottom)

All Optical Photoacoustic Spectroscopy and Imaging

In collaboration with Dr. Randolph Glickaman at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and Dr. Saher Maswadi, owner of EchoLase we are utilizing an all optical photoacoustic (optoacoustic) imaging and sensing modality for biomedical applications.  

Figure Caption: Unprocessed OAM image constructed by scanning an area within the grid surface using pulse laser with 40x40 steps using LabVIEW®(Left) . Stock image of TEM grid (courtesy Pelco®)(Center) . Processed optoacoustic image after data smoothing and image filtering using Origin® software (Right).  


Funding Sources:

Current Support:

Past Support:

Lab Openings:

Graduate Students:

Graduate students with an interest in nano-bio interfaces, synthesis of nanoparticles and nanoparticles for biophysical investigations. Additionally, students willing to work on translation of nanoparticles for medical applications. 

Postdoctoral Researchers:

No openings at this time.


Undergraduates with an interest in biophysics, nano-bio interfaces, nanomaterials synthesis.

Contact Prof. Kelly Nash at

Collaborators:                                     Department/Company                  Affiliation                                    

Hope Beier, Ph.D.                                 RHDO/AFRL                                       Ft. Sam Houston

Benjamin Furman, Ph.D.                       Chemistry                                        Southwest Research Institute

Randolph Glickman, Ph.D.                    Dept. of Opthamology                   Univ. of Texas Health Science-San Antonio   

Gregory Guisbiers, Ph.D.                       Dept. of Physics                              University of Texas at San Antonio  

Ruyan Guo, Ph.D.                                  Dept. of Electrical Engineering       University of Texas at San Antonio  

Bennett Ibey, Ph.D.                                RHDR/AFRL                                      Ft. Sam Houston            

Humberto Lara Villegas, M.D., Ph.D.   Microbiology/Pathology               Universidad de Monterry,Monterry, Mexico

Saher Maswadi, Ph.D.                            Owner                                              EchoLase

Xomalin Peralta, Ph.D.                           AFRL                                                 Ft. Sam Houston  

Heather Shipley, Ph.D.                           Dept. of Civil Engineering             University of Texas at San Antonio

Arturo Montoya, Ph.D.                            Dept. of Civil Engineering             University of Texas at San Antonio