Nano@Tech Spring 2023 Series | Self-Assembly of Bioresource Materials for Functional Nanoparticles

Featuring Zhaohui (Julene) Tong | School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech

Abstract: Bioresource materials such as cellulose, chitin, and lignin, are usually low-cost, biocompatible, and abundant in nature. The synthesis of functional materials from these bioresource materials can address long-term environmental challenges such as resource and energy depletion, plastic pollution, and climate change. However, the adaption of chemical functionalization and self-assembling methodologies to renewable resource materials for functional materials is very challenging due to their macromolecular structures, heterogeneous properties, poor solubility, and the disturbance of impurities. In this talk, we will summarize how we explore self-assembly methods to produce new nanostructures and endure new functions for renewable resource materials. Several examples will be discussed. For example, glycerol, a biowaste from the biodiesel process, has been assembled into a nano-core-shell structure for a smart food packaging film sensor for universal real-time food spoilage monitoring. Chitosan or alginate nanoparticles loaded with β-lactam antibiotics and β-lactamase inhibitors act as a novel combination therapy for multiple drug-resistant pathogens. Lignin, a biorefinery waste, can be assembled as a biowaste-derived, nanohybrid-reinforced double-function slow-release fertilizer with a metal adsorption function. Ultimately, we would like to use these self-assembly nanostructures from renewable resources to achieve a high-efficiency circular bioeconomy.

Biography: Dr. Tong is an associate professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT). She joined GT in January 2022. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering at GT in 2007. After graduation, she worked in the energy division of an engineering consulting company (Ch2mHill) for two years. After that, she worked as an assistant and associate professor in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department at the University of Florida from June 2010-December 2021. Tong’s research focuses on the synthesis of functional sustainable materials and catalytical conversion for biochemicals and biofuels from renewable resources.  She has led several Federal-funded projects from USDA, DOE, NSF, and NAS. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Watch a live-stream of the seminar here:

A boxed lunch will be served on a first come first served basis.