23 July 2018
Nanomaterials experts from around the world will gather on the Sunshine Coast to discuss how tiny molecules could solve the world’s biggest problems, including cancer and pollution.
The University of the Sunshine Coast is hosting the Third International Conference on NanoMaterials for health, energy and the environment from July 22-27 at Mantra Hotel at Mooloolaba, which is expected to attract about 50 experts and students from 15 countries.
Committee member and conference host Professor John Bartlett, said progress in nanotechnology had opened possibilities for in numerous fields.
“We are designing new and better materials every day and if you can see a problem you can design a material to suit,” said Professor Bartlett, who is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering at USC.
Cancer drugs are one of the exciting development areas in which he is working, with macroscopic materials now able to deliver treatments directly to the cancer cell, potentially lessening the harmful effects on the rest of the body.
“It’s like having a tiny bottle of drugs with a stopper on the top that only responds to a certain environment,” he said.
“In this case the acidity of the cancer cell is a bit different to the rest of the body so the cap, in effect, springs off when it arrives at the cell, avoiding interaction with normal tissue.”
Professor Bartlett said nanomaterials could also be used to absorb heavy metals from the environment or to build better lithium ion storage batteries by altering the materials with which the batteries are made.
Professor Bartlett, who previously worked at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, said he had collaborated with many of the conference organisers for 15 years in an exciting field.
“I love working in this area. We are using the same box of chemical tricks to make materials that have all these practical applications across such diverse fields,” he said.
The event’s organising committee includes academics from France, Belgium and the United States of America, who have formed a long-term group of passionate collaborators.