Colloids are small particles with diameters that lie within the nanoscopic and microscopic domains. Recently, research has focused on deformable or soft colloidal particles, such as microgels and star polymers, which show fascinating behaviour such as jamming and glass formation in dense dispersions. I will describe a new type of soft colloidal particle, phytoglycogen, which is produced in the form of highly branched, monodisperse nanoparticles in sweet corn . The particles are chemically simple, but it is their dendrimeric or tree-like physical structure that produces interesting and unusual properties such as extraordinary water retention, and low viscosity and exceptional stability in water. These properties point to a wide variety of promising applications from cosmetics to drug delivery, yet these applications need to be enabled by a deeper understanding of the unique structure of the particles and their unusually strong interaction with water . I will describe our journey from our initial serendipitous discovery of the particles to our detailed analysis of their structure, hydration and soft mechanical properties to the commercialization of this natural, sustainable nanotechnology in our Guelph-based spinoff company Mirexus.
 J.D. Nickels, J. Atkinson, E. Papp-Szabo, C. Stanley, S.O. Diallo, S. Perticaroli, B. Baylis, P. Mahon, G. Ehlers, J. Katsaras and J.R. Dutcher. Structure and Hydration of Highly-Branched, Monodisperse Phytoglycogen Nanoparticles, Biomacromolecules 17, 735-743 (2016).
 M. Grossutti and J.R. Dutcher. Correlation Between Chain Architecture and Hydration Water Structure in Polysaccharides, Biomacromolecules 17, 1198-1204 (2016).