Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pitt researchers harness carbon nanomaterials for drug delivery systems, oxygen sensors

20.08.2009
Researchers describe carbon nanocapsules for drug and energy storage in Advanced Materials, creation of highly sensitive oxygen sensors in Nature Chemistry

Two nanoscale devices recently reported by University of Pittsburgh researchers in two separate journals harness the potential of carbon nanomaterials to enhance technologies for drug or imaging agent delivery and energy storage systems, in one case, and, in the other, bolster the sensitivity of oxygen sensors essential in confined settings, from mines to spacecrafts.

In a report published online by Advanced Materials Aug. 12, a team led by chemistry professors Alexander Star and Stéphane Petoud in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences describe the creation of nanosized capsules that are universally compatible with a range of substances, particularly related to medicine and energy. When applied to medicine, the tiny vessels can potentially carry a sizable "cargo" of anticancer drugs or medical-imaging agents, and could be steered via antibodies and biological molecules to specific locations within the human body. Energy applications include the storage of lithium and hydrogen in batteries and fuel cells. Pitt graduate chemistry student Brett Allen was the paper's lead author. The project also included chemistry graduate student Chad Shade and Adrienne Yingling, now a graduate of Pitt's PhD chemistry program.

In a separate paper appearing online in Nature Chemistry Aug. 16, another team headed by Star and Petoud revealed the development of a highly sensitive, fluorescent oxygen sensor that can detect minute amounts of the gas. Oxygen detectors are important safety devices in mines, aircraft, submarines, and other confined spaces, the researchers note. The sensor consists of carbon nanotubes coated with a luminescent compound incorporating europium, a reactive metal found in fluorescent bulbs, television/computer screens, and lasers, among other applications.

The researchers gauged oxygen levels by measuring the intensity of its glow when exposed to ultraviolent light and the tubes' change in electrical conductance. The tubes demonstrated sensitivity to oxygen concentrations as low as 5 percent (normal atmospheric concentration is around 20 percent) with the team calculating that it can indicate a level as low as 0.4 percent, and they were unaffected by other atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The second paper was authored by Shade and Pitt chemistry graduate students Douglas Kauffman and Hyounsoo Uh.

For both technologies, the Pitt teams worked with carbon nanomaterials to create enhanced versions of existing technologies. For instance, the oxygen sensor combines the small scale of carbon nanotubes—they are one-atom thick rolls of graphite 100,000 times smaller than a human hair—with the reactivity of the europium compound coating to produce a platform for low-cost, room-temperature detectors that are notably sensitive to oxygen but less complicated than existing sensors, the researchers write in Nature Chemistry.

Regarding the nanocapsules described in Advanced Materials, existing technologies are typically constructed of polymers that are permeable like a sponge and can result in leakage, Star explained. Additionally, each capsule must be tailored to its particular cargo, he said. The Pitt version employs graphite carbon shells bonded with glutaraldehyde—a common biological adhesive—creating a hollow storage space. More importantly, the graphite shells are chemically inactive and are thus compatible with any cargo substance without costly and time-consuming chemical preparation, Star said.

"For decades, researchers have been searching for an optimal vessel for storing and transporting a variety of cargo to specified locations," Star said. "Our devices have the potential to be universal delivery vehicles for a range of materials. Our next steps will focus on controlling how and when the nanocapsules open by using different stimuli such as pH, light, and chemical agents."

To illustrate the capsules' adaptability, the team loaded them with a luminescent imaging agent developed in Petoud's lab made of zinc sulfide semiconductor nanocrystals incorporating terbium, a metal chemically similar to europium. Once in the body, the substance would emit a unique light that allows easier detection and a better image, Petoud said. But the inorganic nanocrystals have to be prepared before being introduced to a biological environment such as the body and is difficult and time-consuming. The graphite nanocapsules, however, could hold and transport the solution with no preparation.

Morgan Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pitt.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips
07.12.2016 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Porous crystalline materials: TU Graz researcher shows method for controlled growth
07.12.2016 | Technische Universität Graz

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>