Prof Paunov has been at the forefront of advanced materials research for more than two decades. He did one of the first studies on anisotropic and Janus particles in 2003-2004, developed novel types of colloidosome microcapsules with hydrogel cores in 2004, pioneered the popular Gel Trapping Technique for measuring the contact angle of colloid particles adsorbed at liquid surfaces in 2003. In 2007 Prof Paunov published a novel method for loading plant pollens with nanoparticles synthesized in-situ which turns them into microreactors or drug delivery vehicles. He also co-developed a new method for preparation of polymer microrods from food-grade materials in 2008-2009, super-stable foams in 2008.
In 2009 Paunov started looking into applying his knowledge of colloidal engineering and nanotechnology to biological systems and he invented a direct technique for functionalising living cells with magnetic nanoparticles. Paunov’s research group also discovered several ways of assembling single cell organisms into cellosome multicellular structures using colloidal assembly methods in 2009-2010. This approach was applied to interface a number of microbial cells with nanomaterials and polymers which turns them into cyborg cells performing functions very different from their original specialization. This led to the development of micro-screening systems based on whole cell biosensors in 2010-2011 which we used to test samples for genotoxic agents. In 2012 Paunov and colleagues published a new method for production of environmentally biodegradable lignin nanoparticles. Since then Paunov also pioneered new capsules for protection of living cells from aggressive environment which he used for encapsulation of probiotics in 2012. In 2013 Paunov’s group invented the colloid antibodies for cell shape recognition and selective killing of bacteria. In 2015 he co-developed new environmentally friendly antimicrobial nanoparticles based in silver ion-infused lignin cores. His ongoing research interest is currently focused on synthetic colloid particles with antimicrobial action, whole cell bioimprinting techniques and the bioimprint-cell interactions.
Our current expertise in formulation of innovative colloid systems is also recognized by the industry. Some of our current industrial projects are focused on:
- Structuring of food products
- Microencapsulation technologies for drug delivery formulations
- Stimulus triggered release of actives
- Stimulus responsive colloid dispersions
In addition to this lane of applied research we do a range of fundamental studies on the following topics:
- Anisotropic materials and smart surfaces
- Biocomposites and biomaterials
- Cyborg cells
- Whole cell biosensors
- Bioimprinting and cell shape recognition
- Antimicrobial nanoparticles
We are focused on better understanding of the interactions between microbial cells and nanoparticles which allow us to design better biosensors, to reveal the nanotoxic effect of different raw and functionalized nanomaterials, as well as to design efficient antimicrobial formulation based on colloid particles. Our recent development of colloidal bioimprints capable of cell shape recognition allowed us to address specific cells and deliver antimicrobial agents directly to their surface while leaving the other cells unaffected.