Role of Nanoparticles’ Surface Coating Mechanics in Cellular Uptake

Project Title: Role of Nanoparticles’ Surface Coating Mechanics in Cellular Uptake

Project Duration: May 22 – July 28, 2017 (10 weeks), 40 hours per week.

Project Mentors

  • Primary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone):

Xianqiao Wang, College of Engineering, 706-542-6251

  • Secondary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone):

Jin Xie, Department of Chemistry 706-542-1933

  • Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors (Name, Affiliation and Email/Phone):

Matthew Becton, College of Engineering,

Weizhong Zhang, Department of Chemistry,


Project Description: With the rapid development of nanotechnology, recent years have witnessed the explosive growth of interests in the promising applications of nanoparticles (NPs) in gene delivery, bioimaging, biosensors, nanovaccines, and drug delivery. Meanwhile, there have been concerns over toxicity of nanoparticles as they enter the human body via various pathways including the respiratory system, skin absorption, intravenous injection and implantation. Hence, it is important to understand the cell-nanoparticle interactions and use the knowledge as a roadmap to guide engineering of nanoparticles, saving time and cost on otherwise tedious in vitro and in vivo studies. So far, most efforts have been devoted to study the effect of NPs’ size, shape, and surface chemistry on its cellular uptake via experimental investigation and computational simulation. However, there have been few works on the effect of NPs’ surface coating mechanics such as the coating polymer flexibility. This REU project will focus on the study of NPs’ surface coating mechanics on its cellular uptake.


REU Student Role and Responsibility: The main target of this REU s to develop computational models and perform a series of experimental validations to identify the role of nanoparticle’s surface mechanics in the cellular uptake. The student will study the effect of the flexibility of surface coating polymers on the nanoparticle surface on its penetration efficiency and translocation time into cells via an integrated computational and experimental methodology, therefore providing useful clues to understand the fundamental role of surface mechanics of NPs in the cell-nanoparticle interactions.


Expected Outcome for REU student: The primary goal for this project is the development of a manuscript for submission to the biomechanical journal and later as the preliminary result for our next potential proposals to NSF or NIH. The REU student will be recognized as a coauthor.