Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

It All Depends on the Length

21.01.2013
Chemical functionalization of ‘toxic’ long carbon nanotubes reduces their effective length and alleviates asbestos-like pathogenicity

Carbon nanotubes resemble asbestos fibers in their form. Unfortunately, long, pure nanotubes also seem to have asbestos-like pathogenicity.



In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a European research team has now reported that chemical modifications, for example with tri(ethylene glycol), can alleviate this problem if the modification makes their surface more water-friendly and reduces the effective length of the tubes.

Due to their unique physical, chemical, and electronic properties, carbon nanotubes have become one of the most popular nanomaterials. They are used in electronics, for reinforcing plastics, and in biomedicine as nanotransporters to carry drugs into cells. For many of these applications, particularly in the area of biology, it is necessary to chemically alter the tubes by attaching molecules to their surfaces.

However, the industrial production of carbon nanotubes could bring health risks with it. Studies have shown that multi-walled nanotubes that are more than 20 µm long act like asbestos fibers, causing inflammation followed by granulomas—inflammation-induced knotlike tissue growths. This occurs because the macrophages of our immune system cannot absorb and remove the long fibers. Shorter nanotubes and those with certain surface modifications have now been shown to alleviate toxicity.

A team led by Maurizio Prato, Alberto Bianco, and Kostas Kostarelos wanted to determine what role the chemical modifications have in resolving the toxic risk from the tubes. The scientists from University College London (UK), the CNRS in Strasbourg (France), and the University of Trieste (Italy) attached either hydrocarbon chains or tri(ethylene glycol) chains as side-groups on multi-walled carbon nanotubes and compared their effects to those of unmodified tubes. The results show that the unmodified nanotubes and those with hydrocarbon chains lead to asbestos-like inflammation and granulomas in mice.

However, the carbon nanotubes with tri(ethylene glycol) chains do not.
The difference seems to be a question of aggregation/disaggregation that influences the length of the bundles: As shown by images from transmission electron and atomic force microscopies, the effective length of the tubes is reduced during the reaction that introduces the tri(ethylene glycol) chains.

The researchers believe that the modification with the tri(ethylene glycol) chain breaks apart the tubes from each other so that they interact in the body as shorter, much more hydrophilic individual fibers, whereas both the unmodified tubes and those with apolar hydrocarbons on their surfaces interact with tissue as longer bundles of individual nanotubes.

The researchers conclude that only those modifications that lead to a disentangling of the bundles can alleviate the toxicological problems.

About the Author
Alberto Bianco is Research Director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). His research interests focus on the design and development of chemically functionalized carbon nanomaterials for biomedical applications.

Author: Alberto Bianco, CNRS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Strasbourg (France), mailto:a.bianco@ibmc-cnrs.unistra.fr

Title: Asbestos-like Pathogenicity of Long Carbon Nanotubes Can be Alleviated by Chemical Functionalization

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201207664

Alberto Bianco | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>