Dr. Antonio Ferraro is a material scientist working to develop heat-generating nanostructures to treat cancers. He explains how creative thinking has helped him succeed as a researcher.
My colleagues and I are currently working to develop nanostructure technologies to eliminate cancer cells in the body. In the lab, we study how gold nanodisks produced in specific arrangements can convert laser wavelengths into a local heat source. These materials can generate temperatures of over 100 °C, making them an ideal tool to remove tumor cells quickly and with high precision.
Current cancer treatments, such as surgery and radiotherapy, pose the risk of damaging both cancerous and healthy tissues. As nanostructures are able to give fine control in the temperature and dimension of the heat, they can eliminate cancer cells without affecting the surrounding tissue. Consequently, these technologies could play an essential role in developing more targeted cancer therapies.
In my work I often take risks. I love to perform experiments using unusual methods or unconventional materials such as aluminum foil or seed oil for frying food. One of my favorite questions is “what if I used this instead?” Of course, not every idea is successful, but it’s about taking that leap of faith and refining the methods later.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: Having an open mind and sense of creativity is a very important part of being a researcher. Don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge!