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Distinguished Lecture: 20 Years of Nanomaterials for Biophotonics – Challenges and Opportunity by Prof Ken Tye Yong

Photonics Society

During the last 20 years, different nanomaterials have been applied in healthcare applications such as cancer imaging, lymph node mapping and brain diseases therapy. These nanomaterials can be engineered to serve as a platform for challenges in highly sensitive optical diagnostic tools, biosensors, and guided imaging and therapy.

Nanomaterials surface can be decorated with functional biomolecules to selectively target specific sites in vitro and in vivo.  Importantly, they possess unique tunable spectral and optoelectronic properties, which have significant advantages for various biological applications such as tumor growth monitoring, single biomolecule detection, targeted drug delivery therapy, and control release of gene silencing materials. The flexibility and versatility of nanomaterials may provide the keys to answer important biological questions and ultimately improve diagnostics and therapy of human diseases.

A synergistic combination of nanomaterials with biophotonics provides unprecedented opportunities to address many current challenges in disease diagnosis and therapy. For example, quantum dots, gold nanoparticles, gold nanorods, gold nanoshells, upconversion nanocrystals, iron oxide nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, carbon dots, silica nanoparticles, aggregation-induced emission (AIE)-based nanoparticles, etc. are among the commonly investigated nanomaterials in biophotonics. The flexibility in optical and electronic tuning allows these nanomaterials to emit or scatter from visible to near-infrared (NIR) region, an essential characteristic for tailoring specific needs in biophotonic applications.

In this talk, we will highlight the use of nanomaterials with different sizes, compositions, and shapes for biophotonic and nanomedicine applications (e.g. guided bioimaging, multimodal imaging, sensing, in vivo surgery, gene delivery, etc). Also, we will discuss important factors on designing bioconjugated nanomaterials for biophotonic applications as well as the future trend of using nanomaterials in the biophotonic and nanomedicine field. Certainly, the in vitro and in vivo nanotoxicity of nanomaterials will be one of the main challenges to be overcome if we would like/want to pursue in vivo biophotonic or nanomedicine technologies with nanomaterials.

The toxicity assessment of nanomaterials in cell culture and animal models will be presented. This talk is intended to promote the awareness of past and present developments of nanomaterials in biomedical fields, the potential toxicity of nanomaterials, and the approaches to engineer new types of safe nanomaterials, whereby encouraging researchers to think about exciting and promising biophotonic and nanomedicine applications with nanomaterials in the near future.

Biography: Ken-Tye Yong earned his BS, M.Eng, and Ph.D. from State University of New York at Buffalo, USA. His Ph.D. work was conducted at nanomaterials characterization laboratory studying solution and gas phase synthesis techniques for preparation and characterization of functional inorganic nanoparticles with tunable optical property. During his postdoctoral training at the Institute of Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics and John Hopkins University, he worked extensively on synthesizing quantum dots, up-conversion nanocrystals and metallic nanoparticles for biophotonic applications. Prior to joining the Nanyang Technological University, he was a Samuel Stroum AACR research fellow, studying nanomedicine field where he engineered multimodal probes for pancreatic cancer detection and targeted gene and drug delivery therapy.

Dr. Yong is an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University. He also serves as the Director of the Bio Devices and Signal Analysis (VALENS). He is the Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, Fellow of Royal Society of Biology, Overseas Fellow of Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of Institute of Physics, Fellow of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Senior Members of IEEE. Ken-Tye is the recipient of 2017 Beilby Medal and Prize for his research work in using quantum dots and metal nanoparticles for nanomedicine, of 2018 Rosenhain Medal and Prize for his pioneering work in applying TENG devices, 2D materials, and AIE nanoparticles for biophotonics and of Distinguished Lecturer Award from IEEE Photonics Society. Currently, his research group interests include engineering nanomaterials for biophotonic and nanomedicine applications, nanotoxicity and pharmacokinetics of nanoparticles, fabricating miniaturized devices for drug delivery, developing nanosensors for biodetection, and creating devices for nanophotonics studies.

Dr. Yong has published more than 185 articles in journals, 7 book chapters and 50 conference papers. He has filed more than 10 patents and some has been licensed. His research has been featured on Advanced Science News, Nature Nanotechnology, Nano Today, Science Daily, Phys.org, MIT Technology Reviews, Scientific American, NTU News and other media outlets.