Our Group's research is highly interdisciplinary with five main research directions



(I) Renal Clearable Metal Nanoparticles for Kidney Functional Imaging


To address the long-standing challenge in noninvasive fluorescence kidney imaging, we are developing renal clearable metal nanoparticles for noninvasive imaging of kidney function and noninvasive staging of kidney dysfunction.


Recent Publications:


(1) M. X. Yu, J. C. Zhou, B. J. Du, X. H. Ning, C. Authement, L. Gandee, P. Kapur, J. T. Hsieh, J. Zheng. “Noninvasive Staging of Kidney Dysfunction Enabled by Renal Clearable Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 55, 2787-2791 (2016) (Highlighted as VIP).


(2) M. X. Yu, J. B. Liu, X. H. Ning, J. Zheng*. “High-contrast Noninvasive Imaging of Kidney Clearance Kinetics Enabled by Renal Clearable Nanofluorophores”. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2015, 54, 15434-15438.


(3) M. X. Yu, J. Zheng*. “Clearance Pathways and Tumor Targeting of Imaging Nanoparticles”. ACS Nano, 2015, 9, 6655–6674.


(II) Renal Clearable Metal Nanoparticles as Multimodality in vivo Imaging Probes


To minimize nanotoxicity, we have developed a class of luminescent metal nanoparticles that can be cleared from the body through urinary system but still serve as a new generation of contrast agents for early disease diagnosis.


Recent Publications:


(1) J. Liu, M. Yu, C. Zhou, S. Yang, X. Ning, and J. Zheng, “Passive Tumor Targeting of Renal Clearable Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles: Long Tumor Retention and Fast Normal Tissue Clearance”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135(13), 4978-4981.


(2) C. Zhou, G. Hao, T. Patrick, J. Liu, M. Yu, S. Sun, O. Oz, X. Sun, and J. Zheng, “Near Infrared Emitting Radioactive Gold Nanoparticles with Molecular Pharmacokinetics”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 51(40), 10118-10122.


(3) C. Zhou, M. Long, Y. Qin, X. Sun and J. Zheng, “Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles with Efficient Renal Clearance”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2011, 50(14), 3168-3172.



(III) Renal Clearable Metal Nanoparticles for Delivery and Biosensing


Renal-clearable nanoparticles can behave like small molecules in protein labeling without changing the individual protein’s function, which lays down a foundation for in vivo tracking of proteins with multimodality imaging techniques.  On the other hand, the assembly of biosensors and luminescent gold nanoparticles offers the opportunity of developing a new class of nanomaterial-based sensors.


Recent Publications:


(1) S. Sun, X. Ning, G. Zhang, Y.C. Wang, C. Peng, J. Zheng. "Dimerization of Organic Dyes on Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles for Ratiometric pH Sensing", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2016, 55, 2421 –2424.

(2) R. Vinluan III, M. Yu, M. Gannaway, J. Sullins, J. Xu, and J. Zheng. "Labeling monomeric insulin with renal clearable luminescent gold nanoparticles", Bioconjugate Chemistry, 2015, DOI:10.1021 /acs.bioconjchem.5b00490.





(IV) New Microscopic Imaging Techniques and Probes for  Live Cell Imaging






Based on unique optical properties of luminescent metal nanoparticles, we are developing new microscopic techniques and probes that allow us to (1) chemically image dynamics of biomolecules at high temporal and spatial resolution; (2) resolve membrane topography at nano scale; (3) unravel interactions between nanoparticles and live cell membrane and followed entry pathways (passive vs active);


Recent Publications:


(1) C. Zhou, S. Yang, J. Liu, M. Yu, J. Zheng, “Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles: A New Class of Nanoprobes for Biomedical Imaging”, Exp. Bio. Med., 2013, 238, 1199-1209.


(2) C. Zhou, J. Yu, Y. Qin, and J. Zheng, “Grain Size Effects in Polycrystalline Gold Nanoparticles”, Nanoscale, 2012, 4(14), 4228-4233.


(3) M. Yu, C. Zhou, J. Liu, J. D. Hankins and J. Zheng, “Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles with pH Dependent Membrane Adsorption”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133(29), 11014-11017. (Equal contribution)





(V) Nanochemistry for Luminescent Metal Nanoparticles





After a decade's effort, we have developed three synthetic strategies to create luminescent metal nanoparticles with tunable size and surface chemistries. Using structure-fluorescence relationships we discovered in the past decade, we are now designing a new generation of luminescent metal nanoparticles that can address the challenges in biomedical and energy research.


Recent Publications:


(1) J. Zhao, S. Sun, L. Swartz, S. Riechers, P. Hu, S. Chen, J. Zheng, and G.Y. Liu. "Size-Independent Single-Electron Tunneling". J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2015, 6 (24), 4986-4990.


(2) J. Zheng, C. Zhou, M. Yu, J. Liu, “Different Sized Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles”, Nanoscale, 2012, 4(14), 4073-4083.


(3) C. Zhou, C. Sun, M. Yu, Y. Qin, J. Wang, M. Kim, J. Zheng “Luminescent Gold Nanoparticles with Mixed Valence States Generated from Dissociation of Polymeric Au (I) Thiolates” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2010, 114(17), 7727-7732.


(4) J. Zheng, Y. Ding, B. Tian, Z. L. Wang, X. W. Zhuang, “Fluorescent and Raman active silver nanoparticles with polycrystalline structure”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2008, 10472-10473.


(5) J. Zheng, P. R. Nicovich, R. M. Dickson, “Highly Fluorescent Noble Metal Quantum Dots”, Annu. Rev. Phys. Chem., 2007, 58, 409-431.


(6) J. Zheng, C. W. Zhang, R. M. Dickson, “Highly fluorescent, water soluble, size-tunable, gold quantum dots”, 2004, Phys. Rev. Lett., 93, 077402.


(7) J. Zheng, J. T. Petty, R. M. Dickson, “High Quantum Yield Blue Emission from Water-Soluble Au8 Nanodots”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2003, 125, 7780-7781.


(8) J. Zheng, R. M. Dickson, “Individual Water-Soluble Dendrimer-Encapsulated Silver   Nanodot Fluorescence”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2002, 124, 13982-13983



[Contact us]

2.440 NSERL Building, The University of Texas at Dallas
Tel: 972-883-5768 (Dr. Zheng), 972-883-5769 (Lab)