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Concept: Colloid


The peripheral lungs are a potential entrance portal for nanoparticles into the human body due to their large surface area. The fact that nanoparticles can be deposited in the alveolar region of the lungs is of interest for pulmonary drug delivery strategies and is of equal importance for toxicological considerations. Therefore, a detailed understanding of nanoparticle interaction with the structures of this largest and most sensitive part of the lungs is important for both nanomedicine and nanotoxicology. Astonishingly, there is still little known about the bio-nano interactions that occur after nanoparticle deposition in the alveoli. In this study, we compared the effects of surfactant-associated protein A (SP-A) and D (SP-D) on the clearance of magnetite nanoparticles (mNP) with either more hydrophilic (starch) or hydrophobic (phosphatidylcholine) surface modification by an alveolar macrophage (AM) cell line (MH-S) using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Both proteins enhanced the AM uptake of mNP compared with pristine nanoparticles; for the hydrophilic ST-mNP, this effect was strongest with SP-D, whereas for the hydrophobic PL-mNP it was most pronounced with SP-A. Using gel electrophoretic and dynamic light scattering methods, we were able to demonstrate that the observed cellular effects were related to protein adsorption and to protein-mediated interference with the colloidal stability. Next, we investigated the influence of various surfactant lipids on nanoparticle uptake by AM because lipids are the major surfactant component. Synthetic surfactant lipid and isolated native surfactant preparations significantly modulated the effects exerted by SP-A and SP-D, respectively, resulting in comparable levels of macrophage interaction for both hydrophilic and hydrophobic nanoparticles. Our findings suggest that because of the interplay of both surfactant lipids and proteins, the AM clearance of nanoparticles is essentially the same, regardless of different intrinsic surface properties.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Lung, Cell biology, Nanotechnology, Colloid, Lipid, Pulmonary surfactant


A simple method for the fabrication of porous silicon (Si) by metal-assisted etching was developed using gold nanoparticles as catalytic sites. The etching masks were prepared by spin-coating of colloidal gold nanoparticles onto Si. An appropriate functionalization of the gold nanoparticle surface prior to the deposition step enabled the formation of quasi-hexagonally ordered arrays by self-assembly which were translated into an array of pores by subsequent etching in HF solution containing H2O2. The quality of the pattern transfer depended on the chosen preparation conditions for the gold nanoparticle etching mask. The influence of the Si surface properties was investigated by using either hydrophilic or hydrophobic Si substrates resulting from piranha solution or HF treatment, respectively. The polymer-coated gold nanoparticles had to be thermally treated in order to provide a direct contact at the metal/Si interface which is required for the following metal-assisted etching. Plasma treatment as well as flame annealing was successfully applied. The best results were obtained for Si substrates which were flame annealed in order to remove the polymer matrix - independent of the substrate surface properties prior to spin-coating (hydrophilic or hydrophobic). The presented method opens up new resources for the fabrication of porous silicon by metal-assisted etching. Here, a vast variety of metal nanoparticles accessible by well-established wet-chemical synthesis can be employed for the fabrication of the etching masks.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Nanotechnology, Nanomaterials, Colloid, Silicon, Gold, Colloidal gold, Nanocrystalline silicon


The objective of this study was to prepare a suitable formulation for dermal delivery of diflucortolone valerate (DFV) that would maintain the localization in skin layers without any penetration and to optimize efficiency of DFV. Drug-loaded lecithin/chitosan nanoparticles with high entrapment efficiency (86.8%), were successfully prepared by ionic interaction technique. Sustained release of DFV was achieved without any initial burst release. Nanoparticles were also incorporated into chitosan gel at different ratios for preparing a more suitable formulation for topical drug delivery with adequate viscosity. In ex-vivo permeation studies, nanoparticles increased the accumulation of DFV especially in the stratum corneum + epidermis of rat skin without any significant permeation. Retention of DFV from nanoparticle in chitosan gel formulation (0.01%) was twofold higher than commercial cream, although it contained ten times less DFV. Nanoparticles in gel formulations produced significantly higher edema inhibition in rats compared with commercial cream in in-vivo studies. Skin blanching assay using a chromameter showed vasoconstriction similar to that of the commercial product. There were no barrier function changes upon application of nanoparticles. In-vitro and in-vivo results demonstrated that lecithin/chitosan nanoparticles in chitosan gel may be a promising carrier for dermal delivery of DFV in various skin disorders.

Concepts: Colloid, Skin, Topical, Dermis, Epidermis, Keratin, Stratum corneum, Topical steroid


In this work, a steroidal gelator containing an imine bond was synthesized, and its gelation behavior as well as a sensitivity of its gels towards acids was investigated. It was shown that the gels were acid-responsive, and that the gelator molecules could be prepared either by a conventional synthesis or directly in situ during the gel forming process. The gels prepared by both methods were studied and it was found that they had very similar macro- and microscopic properties. Furthermore, the possibility to use the gels as carriers for aromatic drugs such as 5-chloro-8-hydroxyquinoline, pyrazinecarboxamide, and antipyrine was investigated and the prepared two-component gels were studied with regard to their potential applications in drug delivery, particularly in a pH-controlled drug release.

Concepts: Colloid, Drugs, Gel, Gels, Aerogel


Determining the size distribution and composition of particles suspended in water can be challenging in heterogeneous multicomponent samples. Light scattering techniques can measure the distribution of particle sizes, but provide no basis for distinguishing different types of particles. Direct imaging techniques can categorize particles by shape, but offer few insights into their composition. Holographic characterization meets this need by directly measuring the size, refractive index, and three-dimensional position of individual particles in a suspension. The ability to measure an individual colloidal particle’s refractive index is a unique capability of holographic characterization. Holographic characterization is fast enough, moreover, to build up population distribution data in real time, and to track time variations in the concentrations of different dispersed populations of particles. We demonstrate these capabilities using a model system consisting of polystyrene microbeads co-dispersed with bacteria in an oil-in-water emulsion. We also demonstrate how the holographic fingerprint of different contaminants can contribute to identifying their source.

Concepts: Particle physics, Demography, Population, Water, Colloid, Liquid, Emulsion, Flocculation


Synchronization occurs in many natural and technological systems, from cardiac pacemaker cells to coupled lasers. In the synchronized state, the individual cells or lasers coordinate the timing of their oscillations, but they do not move through space. A complementary form of self-organization occurs among swarming insects, flocking birds, or schooling fish; now the individuals move through space, but without conspicuously altering their internal states. Here we explore systems in which both synchronization and swarming occur together. Specifically, we consider oscillators whose phase dynamics and spatial dynamics are coupled. We call them swarmalators, to highlight their dual character. A case study of a generalized Kuramoto model predicts five collective states as possible long-term modes of organization. These states may be observable in groups of sperm, Japanese tree frogs, colloidal suspensions of magnetic particles, and other biological and physical systems in which self-assembly and synchronization interact.

Concepts: Colloid, Emergence, Cardiac pacemaker, Swarm, Flocking


Transforming a laser beam into a mass flow has been a challenge both scientifically and technologically. We report the discovery of a new optofluidic principle and demonstrate the generation of a steady-state water flow by a pulsed laser beam through a glass window. To generate a flow or stream in the same path as the refracted laser beam in pure water from an arbitrary spot on the window, we first fill a glass cuvette with an aqueous solution of Au nanoparticles. A flow will emerge from the focused laser spot on the window after the laser is turned on for a few to tens of minutes; the flow remains after the colloidal solution is completely replaced by pure water. Microscopically, this transformation is made possible by an underlying plasmonic nanoparticle-decorated cavity, which is self-fabricated on the glass by nanoparticle-assisted laser etching and exhibits size and shape uniquely tailored to the incident beam profile. Hydrophone signals indicate that the flow is driven via acoustic streaming by a long-lasting ultrasound wave that is resonantly generated by the laser and the cavity through the photoacoustic effect. The principle of this light-driven flow via ultrasound, that is, photoacoustic streaming by coupling photoacoustics to acoustic streaming, is general and can be applied to any liquid, opening up new research and applications in optofluidics as well as traditional photoacoustics and acoustic streaming.

Concepts: Light, Optical fiber, Laser, Chemistry, Colloid, Acoustics, Glass, Laser ablation


Nanoscale emulsions are essential components in numerous products, ranging from processed foods to novel drug delivery systems. Existing emulsification methods rely either on the breakup of larger droplets or solvent exchange/inversion. Here we report a simple, scalable method of creating nanoscale water-in-oil emulsions by condensing water vapor onto a subcooled oil-surfactant solution. Our technique enables a bottom-up approach to forming small-scale emulsions. Nanoscale water droplets nucleate at the oil/air interface and spontaneously disperse within the oil, due to the spreading dynamics of oil on water. Oil-soluble surfactants stabilize the resulting emulsions. We find that the oil-surfactant concentration controls the spreading behavior of oil on water, as well as the peak size, polydispersity, and stability of the resulting emulsions. Using condensation, we form emulsions with peak radii around 100 nm and polydispersities around 10%. This emulsion formation technique may open different routes to creating emulsions, colloidal systems, and emulsion-based materials.

Concepts: Water, Colloid, Liquid, Surface tension, Emulsion, Surfactant, Solution, Vapor


A method to encapsulate DNA in heat-resistant and inert magnetic particles was developed. An inexpensive synthesis technique based on co-precipitation was utilized to produce Fe2O3 nanoparticles, which were further functionalized with ammonium groups. DNA was adsorbed on this magnetic support and the DNA/magnet nanocluster was surface coated with a dense silica layer by sol-gel chemistry. The materials were further surface modified with hexyltrimethoxysilane to achieve particle dispersibility in hydrophobic liquids. The hydrodynamic particle sizes were evaluated by analytical disc-centrifugation and the magnetic properties were investigated by vibrating sample magnetometry. The obtained nanoengineered encapsulates showed good dispersion abilities in various non-aqueous fluids and did not affect the optical properties of the hydrophobic dispersant when present at concentrations lower than 1000 µg/L. Upon magnetic separation and particle dissolution, the DNA could be recovered unharmed and was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR and Sanger sequencing. DNA encapsulated within the magnetic particles was stable for 2 years in decalin at room temperature and the stability was further tested at elevated temperatures. The new magnetic DNA/silica encapsulates were utilized to developed a low-cost platform for the tracing/tagging of oils and oil derived products, requiring 1 µg/L = 1 ppb levels of the taggant and allowing quantification of taggant concentration on a logarithmic scale. The procedure was tested for the barcoding of a fuel (gasoline), a cosmetic oil (bergamot oil), and a food grade oil (extra virgin olive oil), being able to verify the authenticity of the products.

Concepts: Polymerase chain reaction, Nanoparticle, Concentration, Magnetism, Sol-gel, Colloid, Liquid, Olive oil


Here we show the efficacy of graphene oxide (GO) for rapid removal of some of the most toxic and radioactive long-lived human-made radionuclides from contaminated water, even from acidic solutions (pH < 2). The interaction of GO with actinides including Am(iii), Th(iv), Pu(iv), Np(v), U(vi) and typical fission products Sr(ii), Eu(iii) and Tc(vii) were studied, along with their sorption kinetics. Cation/GO coagulation occurs with the formation of nanoparticle aggregates of GO sheets, facilitating their removal. GO is far more effective in removal of transuranium elements from simulated nuclear waste solutions than other routinely used sorbents such as bentonite clays and activated carbon. These results point toward a simple methodology to mollify the severity of nuclear waste contamination, thereby leading to effective measures for environmental remediation.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Nuclear physics, Chemical element, Colloid, Nuclear fission, Activated carbon, Radioactive contamination, Radioactive waste