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Concept: Glass transition


The structural description of disordered systems has been a longstanding challenge in physical science. We propose an atomic cluster alignment method to reveal the development of three-dimensional topological ordering in a metallic liquid as it undercools to form a glass. By analyzing molecular dynamic (MD) simulation trajectories of a Cu(64.5)Zr(35.5) alloy, we show that medium-range order (MRO) develops in the liquid as it approaches the glass transition. Specifically, around Cu sites, we observe “Bergman triacontahedron” packing (icosahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron) that extends out to the fourth shell, forming an interpenetrating backbone network in the glass. The discovery of Bergman-type MRO from our order-mining technique provides unique insights into the topological ordering near the glass transition and the relationship between metallic glasses and quasicrystals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Iron, Solid, Titanium, Glass, Glass transition, Physics of glass, Icosidodecahedron


We present a new 4D printing approach that can create high resolution (up to a few microns), multimaterial shape memory polymer (SMP) architectures. The approach is based on high resolution projection microstereolithography (PμSL) and uses a family of photo-curable methacrylate based copolymer networks. We designed the constituents and compositions to exhibit desired thermomechanical behavior (including rubbery modulus, glass transition temperature and failure strain which is more than 300% and larger than any existing printable materials) to enable controlled shape memory behavior. We used a high resolution, high contrast digital micro display to ensure high resolution of photo-curing methacrylate based SMPs that requires higher exposure energy than more common acrylate based polymers. An automated material exchange process enables the manufacture of 3D composite architectures from multiple photo-curable SMPs. In order to understand the behavior of the 3D composite microarchitectures, we carry out high fidelity computational simulations of their complex nonlinear, time-dependent behavior and study important design considerations including local deformation, shape fixity and free recovery rate. Simulations are in good agreement with experiments for a series of single and multimaterial components and can be used to facilitate the design of SMP 3D structures.

Concepts: Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Differential scanning calorimetry, Glass, Glass transition, Shape memory alloy, Polymers, Shape memory polymer


Vitrification, a kinetic process of liquid solidification into glass, poses many potential benefits for tissue cryopreservation including indefinite storage, banking, and facilitation of tissue matching for transplantation. To date, however, successful rewarming of tissues vitrified in VS55, a cryoprotectant solution, can only be achieved by convective warming of small volumes on the order of 1 ml. Successful rewarming requires both uniform and fast rates to reduce thermal mechanical stress and cracks, and to prevent rewarming phase crystallization. We present a scalable nanowarming technology for 1- to 80-ml samples using radiofrequency-excited mesoporous silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles in VS55. Advanced imaging including sweep imaging with Fourier transform and microcomputed tomography was used to verify loading and unloading of VS55 and nanoparticles and successful vitrification of porcine arteries. Nanowarming was then used to demonstrate uniform and rapid rewarming at >130°C/min in both physical (1 to 80 ml) and biological systems including human dermal fibroblast cells, porcine arteries and porcine aortic heart valve leaflet tissues (1 to 50 ml). Nanowarming yielded viability that matched control and/or exceeded gold standard convective warming in 1- to 50-ml systems, and improved viability compared to slow-warmed (crystallized) samples. Last, biomechanical testing displayed no significant biomechanical property changes in blood vessel length or elastic modulus after nanowarming compared to untreated fresh control porcine arteries. In aggregate, these results demonstrate new physical and biological evidence that nanowarming can improve the outcome of vitrified cryogenic storage of tissues in larger sample volumes.

Concepts: Blood, Extracellular matrix, Blood vessel, Fourier transform, Glass transition, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotectant


Tardigrades are microscopic animals that survive a remarkable array of stresses, including desiccation. How tardigrades survive desiccation has remained a mystery for more than 250 years. Trehalose, a disaccharide essential for several organisms to survive drying, is detected at low levels or not at all in some tardigrade species, indicating that tardigrades possess potentially novel mechanisms for surviving desiccation. Here we show that tardigrade-specific intrinsically disordered proteins (TDPs) are essential for desiccation tolerance. TDP genes are constitutively expressed at high levels or induced during desiccation in multiple tardigrade species. TDPs are required for tardigrade desiccation tolerance, and these genes are sufficient to increase desiccation tolerance when expressed in heterologous systems. TDPs form non-crystalline amorphous solids (vitrify) upon desiccation, and this vitrified state mirrors their protective capabilities. Our study identifies TDPs as functional mediators of tardigrade desiccation tolerance, expanding our knowledge of the roles and diversity of disordered proteins involved in stress tolerance.

Concepts: Gene, Solid, Silicon dioxide, Glass, Glass transition, Tardigrade, Trehalose, Amorphous solid


In recent years, amorphous formulations and other special dosage forms of drug products have been investigated to achieve adequate solubility and disintegration. We have evaluated the distribution of crystalline and amorphous states of a drug product using Nanothermal analysis (Nano-TA) and Raman imaging methods. Compared to conventional differential scanning calorimetry, Nano-TA can be used to more rapidly characterize the crystalline and amorphous states of model formulations, including their ingredient distributions, without any sample preparation. In the current study, imaging maps obtained for specific model formulations were evaluated on the basis of their visual appearance and the physicochemical properties of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). In addition, the crystalline and amorphous states of the model formulations were distinguished by Raman mapping. Nano-TA was found to be useful for the characterization of crystalline and amorphous states of APIs and the distribution of other ingredients. This technology could be used to monitor the changes in crystalline forms of drug substances and dosage forms during processing. In addition, Nano-TA can be used to characterize amorphous states.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Physical chemistry, Materials science, Differential scanning calorimetry, Pharmaceutical drug, Glass transition, Active ingredient, Isothermal titration calorimetry


Abstract The objective of this study was to improve the dissolution rate and to enhance the stability of a poorly water-soluble and low glass-trasition temperature (T(g)) model drug, fenofibrate, in low molecular weight grades of hydroxypropylcellulose matrices produced by hot-melt extrusion (HME). Percent drug loading had a significant effect on the extrudability of the formulations. Dissolution rate of fenofibrate from melt extruded pellets was faster than that of the pure drug (p < 0.05). Incorporation of sugars within the formulation further increased the fenofibrate release rates. Differential scanning calorimetry results revealed that the crystalline drug was converted into an amorphous form during the HME process. Fenofibrate is prone to recrystallization due to its low T(g). Various polymers were evaluated as stabilizing agents among which polyvinylpyrrolidone 17PF and amino methacrylate copolymer exhibited a significant inhibitory effect on fenofibrate recrystallization in the hot-melt extrudates. Subsequently immediate-release fenofibrate tablets were successfully developed and complete drug release was achieved within 5 min. The dissolution profile was comparable to that of a currently marketed formulation. The hot-melt extruded fenofibrate tablets were stable, and exhibited an unchanged drug release profile after 3-month storage at 40°C/75% RH.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Polymer, Thermodynamics, Differential scanning calorimetry, Glass transition, Solvation, Stability, Pharmaceutical formulation


When size matters! Silver iodide nanoparticles (AgI NPs) with a mean diameter of 6.3±4.2 nm were synthesized using potassium iodide. The α phase of the AgI NPs was stable up to 37 °C, as determined by differential scanning calorimetry, which is in good agreement with variable temperature XRD measurements.

Concepts: Thermodynamics, Gold, Phase transition, Differential scanning calorimetry, Silver, Glass transition, Iodides, Silver iodide


Amorphous drug dispersions are frequently employed to enhance solubility and dissolution of poorly water-soluble drugs and thereby increase their oral bioavailability. Because these systems are metastable, phase separation of the amorphous components and subsequent drug crystallization may occur during storage. Computational methods to determine the likelihood of these events would be very valuable, if their reliability could be validated. This study investigates amorphous systems of indomethacin (IMC) in poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) and their molecular interactions by means of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. IMC and PVP molecules were constructed using X-ray diffraction data, and force-field parameters were assigned by analogy with similar groups in Amber-ff03. Five assemblies varying in PVP and IMC composition were equilibrated in their molten states then cooled at a rate of 0.03 K/ps to generate amorphous glasses. Prolonged aging dynamic runs (100 ns) at 298 K and 1 bar were then carried out, from which solubility parameters, the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter, and associated hydrogen bonding properties were obtained. Calculated glass transition temperature (T(g) ) values were higher than experimental results because of the faster cooling rates in MD simulations. Molecular mobility as characterized by atomic fluctuations was substantially reduced below the T(g) with IMC-PVP systems exhibiting lower mobilities than that found in amorphous IMC, consistent with the antiplasticizing effect of PVP. The number of IMC-IMC hydrogen bonds (HBs) formed per IMC molecule was substantially lower in IMC-PVP mixtures, particularly the fractions of IMC molecules involved in two or three HBs with other IMC molecules that may be potential precursors for crystal growth. The loss of HBs between IMC molecules in the presence of PVP was largely compensated for by the formation of IMC-PVP HBs. The difference (6.5 MPa(½) ) between the solubility parameters in amorphous IMC (25.5 MPa(½) ) and PVP (19.0 MPa(½) ) suggests a small, positive free energy of mixing, although it is close to the criterion for miscibility (<7 MPa(1/2) ). In contrast to the solubility-parameter method, the calculated Flory-Huggins interaction parameter (-0.61 ± 0.25), which takes into account the IMC-PVP interaction energy, predicts complete miscibility at all PVP compositions, in agreement with experimental observations. These results from MD simulations were combined with experimental values for the crystalline γ-polymorph of IMC and amorphous IMC to estimate the solubility of IMC in amorphous PVP dispersions and the theoretical enhancement in the aqueous solubility of IMC molecularly dispersed in PVP at various volume fractions. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the American Pharmacists Association J Pharm Sci.

Concepts: Oxygen, Molecular dynamics, Chemistry, Atom, Chemical bond, Hydrogen bond, Glass, Glass transition


The purposes of this study were to assess the efficiency of different nifedipine amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) in achieving and maintaining supersaturation and to investigate the solubility-permeability interplay when increasing the apparent solubility via ASD formulations. Spray-dried ASDs of nifedipine in three different hydrophilic polymers, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate (HPMC-AS), copovidone, and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), were prepared and characterized by powder X-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry. The ability of these formulations to achieve and maintain supersaturation over 24 h was assessed. Then, nifedipine’s apparent intestinal permeability was investigated as a function of increasing supersaturation in the parallel artificial membrane permeability assay model and in the single-pass rat intestinal perfusion model. The efficiency of the different ASDs to achieve and maintain supersaturation of nifedipine was found to be highly polymer dependent; while a dispersion in HPMC-AS enabled supersaturation 20× that of the crystalline aqueous solubility, a dispersion in copovidone enabled 10×, and PVP allowed supersaturation of only 5× that of the crystalline solubility. Nifedipine flux across the intestine from supersaturated solutions was increased, and the apparent intestinal permeability was constant, irrespective of the degree of supersaturation or the polymer being used. In conclusion, while with other solubility-enabling approaches (e.g., surfactants, cyclodextrins, cosolvents), it is not enough to increase the apparent solubility, but to strike the optimal solubility-permeability balance, which limits the chances for successful drug delivery, the amorphous form emerges as a more advantageous strategy, in which higher apparent solubility (i.e., supersaturation) will be readily translated into higher drug flux and overall absorption.

Concepts: Polymer, Solubility, Solid, Differential scanning calorimetry, Glass, Glass transition, Supersaturation, Amorphous solid


Microfibrous bioactive glasses are showing a considerable capacity to heal soft tissue wounds, but little information is available on the mechanism of healing. In the present study, the conversion of microfibrous borate bioactive glass (diameter = 0.2-5 μm) with the composition designated 13-93B3 (5.5 Na(2)O, 11.1 K(2)O, 4.6 MgO, 18.5 CaO, 3.7 P(2)O(5), 56.6 B(2)O(3) wt%) was evaluated in vitro as a function of immersion time in a simulated body fluid (SBF) at 37 °C using structural and chemical techniques. Silicate 45S5glass microfibers (45 SiO(2), 24.5 Na(2)O, 24.5 CaO, 6 P(2)O(5) wt%) were also studied for comparison. Microfibrous 13-93B3 glass degraded almost completely and converted to a calcium phosphate material within 7-14 days in SBF, whereas >85 % of the silica remained in the 45S5 microfibers, forming a silica gel phase. An amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) product that formed on the 13-93B3 microfibers crystallized at a slower rate to hydroxyapatite (HA) when compared to the ACP that formed on the 45S5 fibers. For immersion times >3 days, the 13-93B3 fibers released a higher concentration of Ca into the SBF than the 45S5 fibers. The fast and more complete degradation, slow crystallization of the ACP product, and higher concentration of dissolved Ca in SBF could contribute to the capacity of the microfibrous borate 13-93B3 glass to heal soft tissue wounds.

Concepts: European Union, Crystal, Calcium, Silicon dioxide, Glass, Glass transition, Calcium oxide, Bioactive glass