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Humboldt Research Fellowship Winner Joins Team of Chemist Emad Aziz

Postdoctoral Researcher Tristan Petit Explores Interactions between Water Molecules and Nanoparticles

№ 161/2013 from Jun 18, 2013

The French postdoctoral researcher Tristan Petit has joined the team of chemistry professor Emad Aziz for two years. Petit, who recently completed a doctorate in physics, won a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to conduct further research in Germany. He chose to do so in the Joint Ultrafast Dynamics Lab in Solutions and at Interfaces (JULiq), which was founded by Aziz and is a scientific collaboration between Freie Universität Berlin and the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. Petit’s main field of research is the interactions between water molecules and nanoparticles. More knowledge in this area may shed light on possibilities for biomedical applications of nanodiamonds as so-called "drug cabs."

The surfaces of tiny diamonds just a few nanometers – billionths of a meter – in size, can be harnessed for the transport of other molecules. They are important for biomedical procedures, for example in cancer therapy. However, the interactions between water molecules and nanoparticles have not yet been sufficiently researched. At JULiq Petit will analyze water-based dispersions of nanodiamonds with soft X-ray spectroscopy. His research could help to explain how these particular nanoparticles behave in the body. “Thanks to the unique LiXEdrom experimental setup, we’re able to conduct experiments that can’t be done anywhere else really. Ultimately, that was a strong motivating factor for me to come to Berlin,” said Petit.

Twenty-six-year-old Petit completed his doctorate in March 2013 at École Normale Supérieure de Cachan in France. His doctoral work at Diamond Sensor Laboratory (CEA) in Gif-sur-Yvette focused on surface modifications of nanodiamonds to explore their potential for new biomedical applications.

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