Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Big breakthrough for tiny particles

10.04.2006
MIT chemical engineers have devised an elegant new method for creating complex polymeric microparticles that could have applications in a variety of fields, from drug delivery in medicine to the creation of building blocks for the photonic materials that carry light. The particles can also add texture to skin creams and color to inks.

The new synthesis method gives researchers an extraordinary degree of control over the shape and chemical properties of the microparticles, which range in size from about 1 millionth of a meter to a millimeter.

"We have precise control over shape and an ability to create patterned chemical regions, that is rather unprecedented," said Assistant Professor Patrick Doyle of chemical engineering, one of the authors of a report appearing in the online edition of Nature Materials on April 9.

Doyle says he hopes other researchers will adopt his team’s new technique of continuous flow lithography (CFL), which allows for faster, easier production of microparticles of diverse shape, size and chemical composition.

CFL builds on the well-known technique of photolithography but its novelty lies in the fact that it is performed in a laminar (not turbulent) flowing stream as opposed to the traditionally used stationary film. Wherever pulses of ultraviolet light strike the flowing stream of small building blocks, or oligomers, a reaction is set off that forms a solid polymeric particle in a process known as photopolymerization.

The method makes use of microfluidics - tiny fluid-filled channels with cross-sections typically smaller than a strand of hair. Until now, microfluidic methods have been limited to producing spheres, discs or cylinders. However, with CFL, the particles can be configured into just about any projected 2D shape the researchers want by using a transparency mask to define the shape of a beam of ultraviolet light and focusing it with a microscope. As liquid flows through a microfluidic device, where the synthesis occurs, the shape is repeatedly imprinted onto the oligomer stream, at a rate of about 100,000 particles per hour with the current simple design.

"From an engineering point of view, converting a batch process (photolithography) to a continuous process may have significant advantage when we consider scaling up the technique," said graduate student Dhananjay Dendukuri, lead author on the paper.

The researchers can also create particles with different chemical properties in different locations - for example, a rod that is hydrophilic (water-loving) at one end and hydrophobic (water-fearing) at the other. Such particles are examples of so-called Janus particles, after the Roman god with a double-faced head, and may find use in e-paper technologies or as new building blocks for self-assembled structures.

The new method also makes it easier to create "barcoded" particles, which have an array of chemical properties in different locations. Instead of adding "stripes," or chemical properties, one at a time, the new technique allows them all to be added at once, said Doyle.

Potential medical applications for such particles include drug delivery and performing diagnostic tests, such as testing blood for the presence of certain antibodies or other proteins. Graduate student Daniel Pregibon, one of the authors, said he is interested in creating ring-shaped particles, or "cell cages," that would trap cells for high throughput single cell studies.

Other authors on the paper are Alan Hatton, Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering Practice, and senior physics major Jesse Collins.

The research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant.

Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>