EVO-NANO Q&A – Piotr Barski on nano-particle design and synthesis

First of all, could you please introduce yourselves to the readers? I’m sure they would like to get to know the people behind this project.

Hello, my name is Piotr Barski and I am a founder of ProChimia Surfaces SME, specializing in surface chemistry and self-assembly. For the general audience, these terms are perhaps a little unusual, but they are something that we work with every day. As a way of explaining them, we could refer to detergents and their spontaneous micelle formation. Both phenomena are being utilized every minute world-wide in all washing processes (e.g. washing clothes or dishes). At ProChimia we focus on the agents capable of forming regular structures that serve as “mediators” between different phases.  These molecules form single layer structures that enable interaction between chemically distant environments, i.e. metallic surfaces and biological macromolecules.

If a researcher wanted to visit your laboratory/facility/company, what would be one thing you’d be eager to show off? Can you provide an image or a paper that shows it?

There are a lot of papers that our research society has been generating during the last two decades of our activity that are truly awesome. The examples of applications span over many disciplines from material science and basic molecular sensor research to advanced separation techniques, diagnostics and nano-pharmaceuticals. If we speak of images, I guess one of the most remarkable is the one presenting the triangle cell in the paper published by our long lasting customer and co-operators Prof Kandere-Grzybowska et al. Nature Methods 2, 739, 2005

What’s your current outlook on the future of your work? Does nanoparticle synthesis look like a field that everyone will be drawn towards as more uses are found for them?

I am far away from claiming that the nano-world (including nano-particles) is going to be a future remedy for most issues that accompany humans. Nowadays the discipline of science itself suffers from the “to be in fashion” trends. I suppose the great interest in nano-particles and nano-materials is part of this tendency making it so popular. On the other hand, the popularity of scientific subjects and thus bringing in more research groups is most likely responsible for research competitiveness and eventually the real progress.

Personally I am convinced the nano-directed approach brings in a variety of new features and phenomena to our general knowledge and as such cannot be underestimated. If we compare the nanotechnology trend timeline to that of polymer science and its achievements, we are still far before the moment of the first breakthrough commercial application. However, who can deny the polymer impact today after a century of polymerisation related research? Given more time, nanotechnology may reach those same levels of impact.