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Scientists ponder incredible inventions in tiny packages

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Contact:
Hogan Yu, 604.291.560; hzyu@sfu.ca


November 28, 2003
Simon Fraser University materials chemist Hua-Zhong (Hogan) Yu says the science of making great things come in smaller and smaller packages has made nanoscience a new focus of research funding and conferences. Yu and two other SFU scientists, physicist John Bechhoefer and biochemist Dipankar Sen, recently received one of nine new $200,000 federal grants for nano research. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awarded the grants nationally under its new program, Nano Innovation Platform. It was created to help put Canada on the nano world map.

"We’ll use our grant to probe how the interactions between DNA and various proteins change the electrical conductivity of molecules. This process is fundamental to how molecules change shape and conductivity. It may ultimately impact science’s ability to halt diseases," explains Yu.

Imagine an organic test tube — thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair — traveling through the human blood system, ready to obliterate targeted cancer cells with its lethal components. The manipulation of atoms and molecules to develop nanometer-sized and larger structures with novel physical, chemical and biological features used to be science fiction. (A nanometer equals a billionth of a metre.) But, in the last decade, the use of newly developed tools for nanoscience, such as atomic force microscopes, has led to gigantic leaps in physics, chemistry, materials science and other fields.

Yu is the organizer of this year’s annual meeting of the Pacific Centre for Advanced Materials and Microstructures (PCAMM), hosted by SFU. More than 100 people from SFU, the University of B.C., the University of Victoria and local industries, working in different disciplines, will discuss advanced materials and nanoscience issues. The free PCAMM meeting takes place Saturday, December 6, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Halpern Centre, Burnaby campus.

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(electronic photo file available)

Websites:
Pacific Centre for Advanced Materials & Micostructures: www.sfu.ca/physics/PCAMM/PCAMM.htm
Hogan Yu: www.sfu.ca/chemistry/chem_web/yu.html
Natural Science & Engineering Research Council: www.nserc.ca/index.htm