Prof. (Emeritus) Aharon Gedanken, of the Department of Chemistry, is a member of the Nano Materials Center at the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), and a recipient of the President of Israel Achievement Award for coordination of a European Funded Research.
Gedanken is a pioneer of sonochemistry – a discipline in which chemical reactions are accelerated through the application of ultrasonic sound waves. His many discoveries include a process that removes heavy metals ions from polluted water using aquatic plants and microwave radiation – a fast and low-cost method for producing purified water on the one hand, and metallic nanoparticles on the other hand.
Gedanken is an expert in the fabrication of nanostructures with special properties such as antibacterial, antiviral (i.e. Swine influenza), antifungal and antibiofilm. Among his discoveries is the fact that ultrasound radiation can coat a large variety of solid surfaces such as metals, ceramics, polymers, glass, textiles, and even paper, enabling him to impart a variety of properties to the solid.
The vision behind the EC grant that Gedanken leads, with 17 partners from academia and industry, is the Hospital of the Future, in which all textiles such as bed sheets, pajamas, pillow covers, curtains, doctors’ robes, are antibacterial. Due to deep embedding of antibacterial nanoparticles in the textiles, their antibacterial properties are maintained even after 65 hospital washing machine cycles at 92°C.
Together with Prof. Shulamit Michaeli, Gedanken has also recently fabricated RNA-based nanoparticles that can “silence” specific genes and are kept stable at room temperature even after a week.
Gedanken uses sonochemistry to produce micro and nano-vehicles that deliver antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs in a rapid-release mode. These drugs are encapsulated in proteinaceous micro and nano spheres.
Prof. Aharon Gedanken and Prof. Yeshayahu Nitzan have demonstrated that nanoparticles can kill pathogenic bacteria on direct contact. Working together with Dr. Ehud Banin, Prof. Gedanken is also developing antibacterial and antibiofilm nanoparticles for coating the surface of catheters and other implanted medical devices.
Gedanken has developed a microwave-based process that transforms consumer cookingoils and burned oil from restaurants into biodiesel in 10 seconds for a stirred reaction, andin 40 seconds for an unstirred reaction. He has also developed a one-step process, usingmicroalgae grown on seawater together with CO2 released from a power station, to convertall the lipids in the algae into biodiesel.
Gedanken is now applying for a patent for a novel fermentation process that convertsglucose to bioethanol 2.5 times faster than the conventional fermentation process.