Nanomaterials are becoming increasingly prominent in medicine, with the ability to selectively target a specific tissue for drug and gene delivery. Learn how to synthesise, modify and characterise nanoparticles using research laboratory equipment and techniques. 

The field of nanomaterials has made great advances in recent years, being widely explored for their use in medicine. So-called “nanomedicine” involves the use of nano-scale particles—think 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair—to deliver a payload (e.g., drug, genetic material, mRNA) selectively, minimising collateral damage and undesirable side effects. Gold nanoparticles have attracted attention for their unique optical, electronic, and physicochemical characteristics. Using chemistry we can easily adjust size, shape and aspect ratio, and they can also be readily surface modified. The most widely used surface modification involves the use of polymers—a large molecule with many repeating units. Grafting polymers to gold nanoparticle surfaces makes them amenable to diverse medical applications including, diagnostics, drug and gene delivery, radiation therapies and X-ray imaging.

What Students will do 

Students will work in a research lab to synthesis gold nanoparticles and change the properties by tethering polymers to their surface. They will then characterise the nanoparticle using UV-Vis spectroscopy and compare the unique spectral properties caused by a change in shell thickness compared to the unmodified gold nanoparticles. How a polymer can change the size and physical properties of gold nanoparticles will be discussed in the context of frontier biomedical applications. 

Prerequisite Study

  • None

Areas of Student Interest

  • Chemical Synthesis
  • Nanomaterials
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Medicine and Cancer Therapeutics
  • Material Science & Engineering


Kris Killian

Lead Academic: A/Prof Kristopher Kilian - School of Chemistry and Material Science and Engineering

Kris is interested in how the chemistry of materials influences the behaviour of mammalian cells. Inspired by biological materials, he and his research group integrate nano- and micro-fabrication techniques with “hard” and “soft” materials to mimic the physical and chemical properties of the cell and tissue microenvironment. The broader aim of his work is to develop biomaterials for drug delivery and tissue engineering.


Mentor: Yiling Liu, PhD Student

Yiling's research focuses on nanoparticle localisation within melanoma microtumours. She has a strong interest in nanoparticle synthesis and cancer biology.

Yiling has always had an interest in taking simple compounds and using chemistry to transform them into limitless possibilities. In her free time, she likes to play video games and take instant photos.