Amy Chyao is a 16 year old girl from Richardson, Texas. Recently, she was highlighted in President Obama's State of the Union speech for her discoveries in nanotechnology.
What did Amy Chyao discover?
Chyao synthesized a nanoparticle that can kill cancer cells. This type of cancer treatment is called photodynamic therapy and is already used to treat skin cancer. Chyao and Dr. Balkus wanted to find a way to use this technology to treat tumors within the body.
Chyao worked in the laboratory with Dr. Kenneth J. Balkus, Jr., a professor at the University of Texs at Dallas.
How will it work?
First, the nanoparticles are injected into the patient. They can stay in the affected area or travel in the bloodstream. Infrared light can pass partway into the body, and shining it on Chyao’s nanoparticles sets off a chain of reactions, which releases a reactive form of oxygen that can then kill the cancer cells. The nanoparticles contain flourescent gold so they can be tracked within the body.
How was it synthesized?
1. Create a titanium dioxide nanotube using hydrothermal synthesis.
2. Attach lead sulfide quantum dots using a thiolactic acid linker (CH 3 COSH). 3. L-Cysteine is added.
How is it synthesized? (continued)
5. The whole thing is infused with nitric oxide.
That converts the cysteine side chane into s-nitrosocysteine. This nanoparticle will now create singlet oxygen when hit with infrared light, which will destroy tumors.
Identify the nanoparticle components Titanium dioxide nanotube: Only absorbs UV light Thiolactic acid linker Lead sulfide Quantum dots cysteine Nitroso group (s-nitrosocysteine)
What is the future of nanotechnology?
Chyao's work is promising, but it still has a long way to go. The next step would be putting the nanoparticles into cells to see if they worked as designed.
She won the top prize at the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Amy received $75,000 and the Gordon E. Moore Award, given for the first time in honor of Intel co-founder and retired Chairman and CEO.
The Political Angle
Some say President Obama mentioned Ms. Chyao's work in order to boost our nation's confidence about our future in the light of all the recent economic hardship. However, Ms. Chyao's work is very promising and could benefit millions of people.