Yuehua Yu, nicknamed "Tony," arrived at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute (RPI) in 2004 with a degree in chemistry and an advanced degree in polymer science from Nankai University in China. Today he received the Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize of $30,000 for his advancement in the fields of medicine, energy production and storage, water purification, electronics, and many other fields that work with nanoparticles.
Yu solved a major problem relating to the transport of nanoparticles from one place to another. Many liquids had been tried; however, nanoparticles seem to either clump together in the liquids or disperse so thoroughly that they become ineffective. Yu studied the effects of guanosine or "G-gels." He developed the first G-gel that was comprised of more than one guanosine compound, a binary G-gel, that is liquid at low temperatures, but when heated to body temperature, becomes gel-like.
It turned out that variations from liquid to gel in the G-gels were relatively easy to adjust by fine-tuning temperature. This meant that G-gels were an ideal carrier, not only for nanoparticles, but for live cells and enzymes that may be needed as therapeutic solutions to insert into the body.
G-gels can also act as a preservative and a restorative for enzymes. Perhaps one day, enzymes inserted into the skin with G-gel may be the ultimate non-surgical face-lift?
More importantly, Mr. Yu's discoveries will be well received in medical laboratories, as well as by doctors and patients, once nano-medicines become widely used therapy for major illnesses and disorders. Thank you, Tony! And congratulations!