UCF Nanotechnology Unlocks Big Possibilities

Meet Laurene Tetard

Ph.D., University of Tennessee Knoxville, MS/BS, Université de Bourgogne

“UCF fosters highly interdisciplinary research, leading to new solutions and diverse ideas that address real-life problems. I hope our research activities spike interest in STEM training and research for our undergraduate students.”

Laurene Tetard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Physics Department

As a fellow of the Scialog Mitigating Zoonotic Threats initiative, some of Dr. Tetard’s most recent work includes fighting the threat of animal-borne diseases, like the mosquito-spread diseases West Nile fever and dengue fever.

This is important research, as more attention is being paid to detecting and monitoring animal-borne disease threats since the COVID-19 pandemic had possible animal origins.

Dr. Tetard and her collaborators on the project, including NanoScience Technology Center Professor Swadeshmukul Santra, aim to use nanotechnology to design materials that work as disease detectors by changing color in the presence of pathogens.

For mosquito-borne disease detection, this will be a huge improvement over the current method that includes cumbersome traps, species identification and molecular assays. Learning more about interactions between animals, people, pathogens and the environment helps researchers rapidly detect emerging pathogens and quickly develop and deploy countermeasures.

“We are really at the beginning of this idea,” Tetard says. “The opportunity to apply our expertise to a field of research that could benefit from smarter sensors, better fundamental understanding of the response of pathogens to their environments, or to new treatments is very exciting. I hope that this first step will lead to more ideas to prepare us for new unknown biological threats.”

What is Nanoscale?


An image representing the size of a nanometer. A 3.8 inch softball is 96,520,000 nanometers, and the size of the earth is 1.276x10^16 nanometers.

At one-billionth of a meter, a nanometer falls somewhere in size between a strand of human DNA and the average size of an atom. At this scale, the normal properties of materials go out the window and new properties emerge. Gold can appear red, therapeutics can become stronger, and energy storage potential can increase exponentially.

  • Scialog fellow
  • NSF CAREER awardee
  • Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • R&D100 Award

  • Nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy
  • Nano-tool development
  • In-situ spectroscopy
  • Light- matter interactions at the nanoscale
  • Photocatalysis for hydrogen production
  • Nanoscale investigation of plants and biological systems
  • Interaction of nanoparticle and cells
  • Nanomaterial-based sensors

Nanotechnology Innovation and Research

Dr. Tetard and her research colleagues use fundamental science to explore the properties of advanced materials and engineering. This work can improve lives by harnessing the full potential of renewable, sustainable energy sources, protecting our food supply, and more.

Laurene Tetard uses an atomic force microscope
Laurene Tetard uses an atomic force microscope.

Since many standard tools fail to assess information at the nanoscale, Dr. Tetard and her colleagues work to find new approaches to overcome these barriers. Many of these developments involve a tool called an atomic force microscope that uses a nanoscale tip to measure forces between atoms.

Tetard has become a renowned scholar in nanotechnology for the research she’s conducted. In 2019, she was a recipient of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s CAREER grant, an award given to early career scientists and engineers with high promise of leading major advances in their respective fields and who serve as academic role models. Additionally, from 2011 to 2013, Tetard was a Eugene P. Wigner fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

When she’s not in the lab conducting research, Tetard is involved in the UCF Bridge Program in the Physics Department that aims to increase diversity in physics.

UCF is a Recognized Leader in Nanoscience Technology

Ranked among the top 15 Most Innovative Universities in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report, UCF’s 220+ programs are of the highest academic caliber.

World-class Nanoscience Technology Research in Orlando

Robust facilities at the University of Central Florida allow the best minds to come together and collaborate — making powerful discoveries that transform the future of nanoscience. With state-of-the-art research tools and the latest technologies, our facilities provide a place where we uncover new insights and shift paradigms.

Nanoscience Technology Center

The Nanoscience Technology Center at UCF establishes cutting-edge research programs in materials and nanotechnology. It provides high-quality training for students and facilitates the advancement of innovations to solve real-world technology challenges.

Physics Department

The Physics Department provides the highest quality education, research, outreach, and service in physics to the people of the state of Florida, the nation, and the world. The department hosts the Institute for the Frontier of Attosecond Science and Technology (iFAST), the Stephen W. Hawking Center for Microgravity Research and Education, the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science, the Robinson Observatory and other cutting-edge research facilities.

Renewable Energy and Chemical Transformation (REACT) Research Cluster

UCF’s Renewable Energy and Chemical Transformation Cluster, or REACT, is developing new, alternative power sources for our tech and transportation that are safe for people and the environment.

Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC)

The Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC) is an interdisciplinary research and education center for materials science and engineering located at the University of Central Florida (UCF). AMPAC’s vision is to make UCF an international leader in materials science and engineering research and education.

World-class Academic Programs

UCF’s College of Sciences has curriculum and programs to help you land your next opportunity.


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