A team led by U-M chemical engineering professor Walter J. Weber Jr. tagged multi-walled carbon nanotubes—one of the most promising nanomaterials developed to date—with the carbon-14 radioactive isotope, which enabled the nanotubes to be tracked and quantified as they were absorbed into living cells. Researchers used cancer cells called HeLa cells, and also measured nanotube uptake in an earthworm and an aquatic type of worm.
The findings were presented Sunday at the 231st American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta. Co-authors of the presentation are graduate student Elijah Petersen and postdoctoral research assistant Qingguo Huang.
Carbon nanotubes were discovered in 1991, and hold great promise in several areas, including pharmacology and for hydrogen storage in fuel cells, Weber said. But despite their promise, a big problem is that it’s not known how multi-walled carbon nanotubes will impact the living environment, Weber said.
"While everyone is concerned about this issue, there has been no really adequate way before this development to examine the extent to which they may get into human cells, and what will result if they do," Weber said. "Nobody has been able to do quantitative research on this because no method to measure them has existed until now. We were able to detect them, but had no way to determine how much was there."
In tagging the nanotubes with the isotope, researchers found that about 74 percent of the nanotubes added to a culture of cancer cells were assimilated by the cells after 15 minutes, and 89 percent of nanotubes assimilated after six hours, according to the paper. And the uptake was nearly irreversible, with only about 0.5 percent of the nanotubes releases from the cell after 12 hours.
It’s important to understand if and how the multi-walled carbon nanotubes accumulate in living cells, because before the materials can become widely used in society scientists must understand if they’ll pass through the food webs and possibly threaten the health of ecosystems and lead to uptake by humans, Petersen said.
"This approach has virtually limitless potential for facilitating important future investigations of the behaviors of carbon nanotubes in environmental and biomedical applications," Petersen said.
More information on Prof. Weber.
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. Michigan Engineering boasts one of the largest engineering research budgets of any public university, at $135 million for 2004. Michigan Engineering has 11 departments and two NSF Engineering Research Centers. Within those departments and centers, there is a special emphasis on research in three emerging areas: nanotechnology and integrated microsystems; cellular and molecular biotechnology; and information technology. Michigan Engineering is seeking to raise $110 million for capital building projects and program support in these areas to further research discovery. Michigan Engineering’s goal is to advance academic scholarship and market cutting edge research to improve public health and well-being.
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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...
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...
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,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy