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Ricardo Morales explains nanotechnology


A potential weapon in the battle against ovarian cancer may be found in magnetic nanoparticles that would attract and trap cancer cells. Such is the technology being researched by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ricardo Morales. His lecture on the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles catalytic applications was held Monday in the Presidents Dining Room. / photo by David Bess

Jesse Evans
Staff Writer

Roberto Morales, assistant professor of chemistry, discussed the research he and students have been working on in his lecture “Synthesis and Characterization of Metallic Nanoparticles for Catalytic Applications.”

It has to do with nanoparticles for catalytic applications and it puts the University of La Verne in the main frame of scientific research.

“One thing we have to be careful when working with nanoparticles is polymers,” Morales said. “We can eliminate them with high temperature.”

Morales started the presentation by giving the definition of nano using Google “I’m Feeling Lucky,” definition, and Apple’s iPod Nano was the response.

A nano is one billionth of one meter therefore it is really small. At the same time nano technologies have been used in research or otherwise for centuries.

“A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate at which chemical system approaches, equilibrium, without being consumed in the process,” Morales said.

Activity, stability and selectivity, are the most important things for a catalyst. Of those three, activity is the most important and selectivity is the cheapest.

“In each lab we file different recipes to test,” Morales said. “Everything being tested is tested with a catalyst.”

Morales used colored images to show the changes with the research that has been done so far and the images indicated how the particles got smaller and the band gap became wider.

A band gap exists in solids and is the space in which no electrons can exist. At the same time the band gap refers to the energy difference between the valence band and the conduction band.

Not only were colored images used, but graphs as well to show the findings in the research in a visual form. The graphs indicated how the current research with bimetallic and the findings so far.

“I’m not the most scientific person out there, but I found the presentation interesting,” sophomore speech communication major Brittany Martinez said.

“I did find the fact that colors look different at different wave lengths to be fascinating and helpful to better understand the material.”

Besides using images and graph Morales used one of the bimetallic particles they were testing and showed the magnetic attraction that particle had to a magnet.

Some of the students that are doing research with Morales were in attendance and were acknowledged with their hard work with nanoparticles and the research they have done to date.

“I had a class with Dr. Morales and one day we had a lecture on nanoparticles and it sparked an interest,” senior chemistry major, Michael Kress said. “Hopefully my research will apply a magnetic force to improve catalytic research.”

Kress is one of the students that has been researching the metallic nanoparticles for catalysts with Morales

The work that is still in progress is the catalytic reactions, characterizations of the solids and the theoretical studies portion.

Jesse Evans can be reached at

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