Kaustubh Bhalerao, an assistant professor in ACES’ Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, is anticipating potential research projects in CABPN. “We have current projects using nanotechnology to develop the next generation of agricultural chemicals,” he said. “We've also been working in the area of understanding the environmental impact of nanotechnology, which will be important in determining judicious use in the future. As we continue to understand living systems at the scale of the biological molecule, it makes sense that any desire to manipulate these tiny systems would require tools that are correspondingly small. This intersection between nanoscale devices and living systems will be foundational to revolutions in bio-based technologies.”

Kokini described examples of how nanotechnology can be utilized in animal digestion for livestock and how nanosensors might be used in a corn or soybean field.

“Microfluidic devices are already being used to locate a single cancer cell in humans,” he said. “With a ‘lab on a chip’, you can take the DNA and RNA out of that cell and diagnose cancer. In agricultural research, we want to be able to isolate the RNA and DNA from a cell of a leaf. Using a grid of micro-fluidity devices in a field, famers will be able to monitor the health of the plants and make corrections during the plants’ development. The key will be to make it producible and affordable.”