Blacksburg - Maren Roman, assistant professor in the wood science and forest products department of the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech has explored the capabilities of nanocrystal research to reflect in the production of vaccines and better computer printer ink. Her research has targeted cellulose drug delivery and ink jet printing.
Roman experimented with taking cellulose nanocrystals and attaching antibodies to the surface of the crystals. This design enables the nanocrystals to block cell receptors in the body. The process may eventually be used to create vaccines. Through the same receptor-blocking method, this process can combat the effects of some diseases involving inflammation of blood vessels, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain cancers.
Ink jet printing was another research project for Roman. She experimented with using ink jet printers to deposit the crystals because the printers' main focus is precision. Nanocrystals are tiny and pose many difficulties to the people using them. A typical remedy involves converting the nanocrystals to a powder. This has risks as well, as the powder can be a serious health hazard if inhaled. The ink jet printing allows for a safe method of deposition of the nanocrystals.