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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Molly Stevens, 30

Shown that she can control the behavior of gold nanoparticles.

Lecturer, Imperial College London

Materials scientist Molly Stevens believes that when it comes to sensing changes in the environment, nothing beats biological systems. Thats why shes turning to biological molecules to create "smart" nanomaterials that could lead to new, implantable sensing and drug delivery devices. Such devices would quickly detect physiological changes in the body, such as a rise in cholesterol, and respond by releasing the appropriate dose of a stored drug. Thats the vision, at least. But realizing it will require new kinds of materials that behave differently under different chemical conditions. Stevens has recently shown that she can control the behavior of gold nanoparticles by changing the pH of the solution in which they are suspended. She attached the particles to specially designed peptide molecules that, under the right pH conditions, interact with each other to pull the particles together into an organized structure. A change in pH alters the shape of the peptides so that they repel each other, and the particles disperse. "Were taking the best of natures creativity and using it for ourselves," says Stevens. The experiment shows that its possible to create materials that automatically reshape themselves in response to chemical changes in the body. Such a material could yield implantable drug delivery devices that act as their own biological sensors. Stevens is tapping into the versatility of peptides for the next stage of her work. Shes now engineering the peptides so that they change shape in subtler and more varied ways. A drug delivery device made using such peptides would be more sensitive to physiological changes and could offer more control over a multitude of different drug dosages. If her new project succeeds, Stevens will have played an instrumental role in making not only nanomaterials but drug delivery far smarter.

2004 TR35 Winners

Marcel Bruchez

Cofounded Quantum Dot to market the new imaging tool to biologists and drug developers

Vladimir Bulovic

Uses organic and nanostructured semiconductors in devices such as light-emitting diodes, lasers, photodetectors, and chemical sensors.

Mayank Bulsara

Developer of strained silicon.

Dustin Carr

Creates nanoscale silicon devices that can detect subatomic-scale movements.

Selena Chan

Designs nanotechnological tools to detect viruses, bacteria, and, for the first time, single molecules of DNA in medical samples.

Martin Colpepper

Builds the machines needed to make high-quality, low-cost nanofabrication a reality.

Yi Cui

Demonstrated the possibility of building new structures using the basic ingredients of nanotech.

LÆtitia Delmau

Helped solve fundamental problems in nuclear-waste treatment

Martha Gardner

Created statistical models and design software to make materials development more efficient.

Verena Graf

Develops fuel cells that are practical for powering cars.

Yu Han

Synthesized nanoscale particles with tiny, precisely defined pores.

Stefan Hecht

Devised a new class of polymer nanotubes and other molecular building blocks. These novel materials have potential applications in the fabrication of nanosized electronic devices.

Darrell Irvine

Crafts nanoparticles that would release chemicals inside the body to "program" immune cells to combat viral infections like HIV, to tolerate transplants, or even to destroy malignant tumors.

Rustem Ismagilov

Develops microfluidics technologies that use tiny droplets to characterize the function and structure of proteins and to model complex biochemical processes.

Albena Ivanisevic

Uses microscopic tips to deposit precise patterns of peptides directly onto tissues in the body.

Ravi Kane

Created a highly potent anthrax treatment in which each drug molecule blocks multiple toxin molecules rather than just one.

Kinneret Keren

Exploits biology-based self-assembly to build molecular electronics. She created a self-assembled molecular-electronic device -- a carbon nanotube transistor -- using a DNA template.

Jamie Link

Etched optical bar codes into micrometer-size pieces of silicon. She hopes to use the technology to detect pollutants in water or cancerous cells within the body.

Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo

Invented nano transfer printing

Tyler McQuade

Creates catalysts to reduce the number of steps needed to synthesize drugs, diminishing environmentally hazardous by-products.

Teri Odom

Patterned silicon to create minuscule "beakers" that hold only zeptoliters.

Leroy Ohlsen

Replaced fuel cells plastic membranes with porous silicon.

Erik Scher

Works on inorganic semiconductor nanomaterials.

Molly Stevens

Shown that she can control the behavior of gold nanoparticles.

Michael Strano

Arrived at a new understanding of carbon nanotube surface chemistry.

William Taylor

Spearheads efforts to commercialize the "plasmatron," a pollution control device that converts diesel fuel to hydrogen, cutting nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90 percent.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Demonstrated the first-ever two-qubit logic gate in a solid-state device, an advance crucial to building an ultrafast quantum computer.

Shu Yang

Designs "smart" photonic devices for lightning-fast computers and communications networks.

Yuankai Zheng

Simplified the production of magnetic RAM

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