Prashant N. Kumta Edward R. Weidlein Chair; Bioengineering, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, MEMS


Fax: 412-624-3699
848 Benedum
Pittsburgh, PA


Research in materials for energy/energy storage, biosensors, and nanomaterials for gene delivery and bone regeneration

Keywords: fuel cells, electrolysis, supercapacitors, biosensors, biofunctionalization, bone cements, bone regeneration, gene delivery, DNA

(i) Alternative green energy
Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) are of interest as suitable power sources for consumer electronic devices as well as remote and auxiliary power units for transportation. Novel sol-gel complexation-based chemical process have been developed to synthesize phase pure Pt-Ru solid solution anode catalysts having high specific surface area, good stability and excellent catalytic activity.
Hydrogen as an alternative fuel can be produced by water electrolysis. Non-precious metal catalysts for electrodes are cheap and highly corrosion resistant viz. SnO2 or Nb2O5 but show no catalytic activity for oxygen reduction process and exhibit poor electronic conductivity. Mixed oxides have been synthesized to reduce the cost of the noble metal loading while maintaining the catalytic activity similar to pure noble metal oxide (IrO2 or RuO2), and improve the corrosion property of the noble metal oxide electro-catalysts. Supercapacitors are energy storage devices capable of delivering large amounts of charge in a short time interval. Novel  CNTs and N-CNTs have been identified as conductive substrates for growth of vanadium nitrides and oxides as an ideal means to maximize charge delivered at very high currents.

(ii) Biosensors for tissue engineering
CNTs have exceptional mechanical, electronic and optical properties. In order to exploit their uniqueness, HRTEM and Raman spectroscopy have been used to better understand the physical/surface and chemical properties of CNTs as they are functionalized to render them more amenable as scaffold materials for bio-sensing applications

(iii) Nanomatierials for biotechnology
Nano-structured calcium phosphate cements for bone regeneration generally have a higher in-vitro dissolution rate compared to the bulk; show more adsorbed proteins and growth factors due the large surface area and thus influence the in-vivo outcome of these scaffolds. HRTEM helps us establish the relationship between structure of the bone cements and their performance as bone regeneration scaffolds.
Calcium phosphate nanoparticle for targeted gene delivery is investigated exploring different parameters such as particle size, particle morphology, and surface structures. The nanoparticles can be functionalized to target a specific tissue/cell type for therapeutic applications.

Kumta 1Kumta 2



Kumta 3



Figure 1: (a) HR-TEM image shows formation of nano-particle (~2.5nm) Pt-Ru alloy powder. ( b) SAED pattern and TEM image of vanadium oxide grown on CNTs.
Figure 2: (a) TEM of Carboxylated SWNTs. (b) HRTEM image of C-SWNTs. (c) Raman spectrum of the C-SWNTs.
Figure 3: (a) Nano-structured calcium phosphate based injectable cements. (b) Morphology of Mg-doped calcium phosphate nanoparticle for gene delivery.

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