Colloidal particles are microscopic or even nanoscopic-sized particles whose surfaces can be functionalised. Their very large surface areas relative to their small volumes means you can load each one with many molecules to deliver and release drugs or bind pathogens and biomarkers at the target site, opening potential for powerful diagnostic and therapeutic systems. The reason that this potential is yet to be exploited is that these functionalities depend on tight and quantitative control over the number, distribution and activity of interface chemical groups which cannot yet be visualized with chemical specificity and at the single-molecule level.
The SuperCol ITN project plans to get a closer look at colloidal surfaces both visually and with receptor chemistry in order to aid development of these particle systems. To this end the project will combine super-resolution microscopy, colloidal sciences, and advanced modelling to (a) control, (b) visualize and quantify, and (c) rationally design surface-functionality to advance particle-based biomedical applications.