Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Member

Ramakrishna Podila

Committee Member

Apparao M. Rao

Committee Member

Terri Bruce

Committee Member

Jeremy Tzeng


Due to their extraordinary physical, optical, and chemical properties, nanomaterials continue to show great prowess in all varieties of research ranging from energy storage to targeted drug therapy. Specifically, their small size (comparable to biomolecules) and the functional diversity of their surfaces have instigated breakthroughs in the medical field for their use as diagnostic imaging agents, drug delivery vectors, and more. As they become more commonplace and the race continues to test their limits in biomedicine it is imperative that their underlying properties and interactions with biological milieu are thoroughly studied to ensure safe and ethical practices in application. It is known that their unique physical and chemical properties including chemical surface functionality, electronic structure, defect concentration and physical morphology play key roles in these interactions with biomedia. However, much information is still needed to realize the details and dynamics of such interactions to both maximize effectiveness in applications and minimize toxicity local and systemic concerns. Beginning with the phenomenon of the protein- or biocorona, it is understood nanomaterials attract assorted biological molecules such as proteins and lipids virtually instantaneously, altering the chemical and electrical structure of their immediate environment. As time passes, they are known to journey through the body’s organ systems and settle in particular regions or tissues, sometimes leading to adverse reactions including allergic/immune responses or toxemia due to intense aggregation. Building from the complex and spontaneous formation of the protein corona to potential immune response, and, ultimately, to the direct application of targeted cellular uptake, these works establish connections between these innate physiochemical characteristics of carbon-based and metal oxide nanomaterials, their biocompatibility in vitro, and their potentials for life-saving biomedical technologies in oncology and epidemiology.



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