Macrophages—literally, “big eaters”—are a big part of the body’s immune system response. These cells find and engulf invaders, or form a wall around the foreign object. Unfortunately, macrophages also eat helpful foreigners, including nanoparticles. In an effort to clear this long-standing hurdle, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a “passport” that could be attached to therapeutic particles and devices, tricking macrophages into leaving them alone.
Tiny particles of titanium dioxide are found as key ingredients in common products such as paint and toothpaste. When reduced to the nanoscale, these particle acquire catalytic ability. A team of chemists has recently developed a synthesis to produce these nanoparticles at room temperature in a polymer network. Their analysis has revealed the crystalline structure of the nanoparticles and is a major step forward in the development of polymeric nanoreactors.
A new type of nanoscale engine has been proposed that would use quantum dots to generate electricity from waste heat, potentially making microcircuits more efficient. The engines would be microscopic in size, and have no moving parts. Each would only produce a tiny amount of power. But by combining millions of the engines in a layered structure, a device that was a square inch in area could produce about a watt of power for every one degree difference in temperature.
Many medically minded researchers are in hot pursuit of designs that will allow drug-carrying nanoparticles to navigate tissues and the interiors of cells, but University of Michigan engineers have discovered that these particles have another hurdle to overcome: escaping the bloodstream. According to their work, the immune system can't get rid of some of the promising drug carriers quickly.
Quantum dots—tiny particles that emit light in a dazzling array of glowing colors—have the potential for many applications, but have faced a series of hurdles to improved performance. But a Massachusetts Institute of Technology team says that it has succeeded in overcoming all these obstacles at once, while earlier efforts have only been able to tackle them one or a few at a time.
Researchers in Switzerland have designed tiny vessels that are capable of releasing active agents in the body. These “nanovehicles” are made from a liposome just 100 to 200 nm in diameter. By attaching magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to the surface, scientists are able to target the vessel, heating it up to release the drug.
A team of researchers at NIST has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the distances, the intensity of a quantum dot's fluorescence can be predictably increased or decreased. This breakthrough opens a potential path to using quantum dots as a component in better photodetectors, chemical sensors, and nanoscale lasers.
Super-small particles of silicon react with water to produce hydrogen almost instantaneously, according to University at Buffalo researchers. In a series of experiments, the scientists created spherical silicon particles about 10 nm in diameter. When combined with water, these particles reacted to form silicic acid and hydrogen—a potential source of energy for fuel cells.
Living cells are surrounded by a membrane that tightly regulates what gets in and out of the cell. This barrier is necessary for cells to control their internal environment, but it makes it more difficult for scientists to deliver large molecules such as nanoparticles for imaging, or proteins that can reprogram them into pluripotent stem cells. Now, researchers have now found a safe and efficient way to get large molecules through the cell membrane, by squeezing the cells through a narrow constriction that opens up tiny, temporary holes in the membrane.
Modern advances in well controlled fabrication of metal nanoparticles and their composites have assisted material scientists in the design and efficient utilization of desired catalysts, as is evidenced by explosive growth in the nanocatalysis field. A new review published in Advanced Energy Materials highlights the progress of nanocatalysis through rational design.
In a study published in Nano Letters, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)'s Mike Malfatti, Heather Palko, Ed Kuhn, and Ken Turteltaub report on accelerator mass spectrometry measurements used to investigate the relationship between administered dose, pharmacokinetics (PK), and long-term biodistribution of carbon 14-labeled silica nanopartocles in vivo.
Plasmonic gold nanoparticles make pinpoint heating on demand possible. Now Rice University researchers have found a way to selectively heat diverse nanoparticles that could advance their use in medicine and industry.
Researchers at Rice University have recently turned light into heat at the point of need, on the nanoscale, to trigger biochemical reactions remotely on demand. The method makes use of materials derived from unique microbes—thermophiles—that thrive at high temperatures but shut down at room temperature.
Researchers at Rice University have found a way to kill some diseased cells and treat others in the same sample at the same time. The process, which uses tunable plasmonic nanobubbles previously invented in the laboratory of Dmitri Lapotko, is activated by a pulse of laser light and leaves neighboring healthy cells untouched.
A completely new method of manufacturing the smallest structures in electronics could make their manufacture thousands of times quicker, allowing for cheaper semiconductors. Instead of starting from a silicon wafer or other substrate, as is usual today, researchers have made it possible for the structures to grow from freely suspended nanoparticles of gold in a flowing gas.
Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers, but flexibility opens up a wide range of applications. In a world where electronics are becoming more pervasive, flexibility is a highly desirable trait, but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge. Now a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that nanocrystals of the semiconductor cadmium selenide can be "printed" or "coated" on flexible plastics to form high-performance electronics.
Colloidal suspensions of metal nanoparticles in water passes too easily through commonly used macroporous polymeric membranes. To handle these nanofluids, researchers have built a membrane equipped functionalized proteins that can act as filters for nanoscaled particles in aqueous solutions. Such a nano-sieve could act as a catalyzer or could capture solar energy.
Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a system to quickly detect trace amounts of chemicals like pollutants, explosives, or illegal drugs. The new system can pick out a single target molecule from 10,000 trillion water molecules within milliseconds, by trapping it on a self-assembling single layer of gold nanoparticles.
A major new initiative in the European Union is being launched to build a complete picture of how environmental pollutants influence health. Researchers are being asked to use smartphones equipped with GPS and environmental sensors to monitor study participants and their exposure to potential hazards. This information will be combined with blood and urine analysis to investigate whether exposure to risk factors leaves chemical fingerprints that can be detected in bodily fluids.
Serendipity proved to be a key ingredient for the latest nanoparticles discovered at Rice University. The new "lava dot" particles were discovered accidentally when researchers stumbled upon a way of using molten droplets of metal salt to make hollow, coated versions of a nanotech staple called quantum dots.
Rice University scientists have unveiled a new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. The new "solar steam" method from Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) is so effective it can even produce steam from icy cold water.
Scientists in Japan have developed a high activity gold nanoparticle catalyst that simplifies the function of enzymes in capturing substances. This new type of catalyst mimics enzyme function on the surface of cell membranes, which capture molecules of designated lengths and shapes. The findings indicate that gold nanoparticles thus equipped could support biological activities as a catalyst in the reactions of the living body.
Researchers in Switzerland have just published research on how to combine two gels in such a way that they can monitor and change, almost at will, the transparency, electrical properties, and stiffness of the material. Called a “bigel”, the unique material was built by combining DNA fragments with nanoparticles.
The University of California, Riverside has granted an exclusive license to The Idea Zoo, Inc., to commercialize nanotechnology research developed in the lab of Yadong Yin, an associate professor of chemistry. The Idea Zoo was granted exclusive rights to seven patents that cover various aspects of advanced superparamagnetic colloidal nanocrystals. Specifically, the patents focus on magnetically tunable photonic crystals and the ability to commercialize them.
Using optical tweezers, researches have unraveled the mechanics behind mucus gel scaffolding in human lungs. The natural structures inside our lungs, they have found prevents nanoparticle movement beyond pore boundaries, protecting us from nanoscale objects such as viruses and diesel soot. It was previously unclear the extent to which such nanoparticles were prevented from moving.