The International Space Station (ISS) as well as space shuttles possess a limited amount of energy to keep their equipment working once they have been launched into space. Could you imagine being able to generate energy, for the ISS, using molecules found in the astronauts’ urine? Or being able to turn non-drinking water into one that is actually safe to drink? Moreover, being able to use special materials, called biomaterials, to develop bone grafts?
Although this may sound like science fiction, Dr. Eduardo Nicolau and his students are working very hard to find solutions to these real-world problems. For instance, astronauts, people with severe health conditions, and countries where water scarcity is an issue, could benefit from Dr. Nicolau’s research.
But, how is he planning to accomplish these solutions? It is by studying the interaction between nanoparticles and biomacromolecules. What this means is that Dr. Nicolau focuses on trying to understand how tiny materials, called nanoparticles, “see” biological molecules. “We would like to know if they ‘meet and greet’ or if they ignore each other”, expressed Dr. Nicolau. Depending on the kind of interaction, Dr. Nicolau decides if these nanoparticles or biological molecules are suitable for solving the aforementioned real-world problems.