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Concept: Nanomaterials


Crystallization of noble metal atoms usually leads to the highly symmetric face-centred cubic phase that represents the thermodynamically stable structure. Introducing defective microstructures into a metal crystal lattice may induce distortions to form non-face-centered cubic phases when the lateral dimensions of objects decrease down to nanometre scale. However, stable non-face-centered cubic phases have not been reported in noble metal nanoparticles. Here we report that a stable body-centred tetragonal phase is observed in silver nanoparticles with fivefold twinning even at ambient conditions. The body-centered tetragonal phase originates from the distortion of cubic silver lattices due to internal strains in the twinned nanoparticles. The lattice distortion in the centre of such a nanoparticle is larger than that in the surfaces, indicating that the nanoparticle is composed of a highly strained core encapsulated in a less-strained sheath that helps stabilize the strained core.

Concepts: Crystal, Crystallography, Nanomaterials, Gold, Crystal system, Atomic packing factor, Reciprocal lattice, Diamond cubic


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


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are often used as conductive fillers in composite materials, but electrical conductivity is limited by the maximum filler concentration that is necessary to maintain composite structures. This paper presents further improvement in electrical conductivity by precipitating gold nanoparticles onto CNTs. In our composites, the concentrations of CNTs and poly (vinyl acetate) were respectively 60 and 10 vol%. Four different gold concentrations, 0, 10, 15, or 20 vol% were used to compare the influence of the gold precipitation on electrical conductivity and thermopower of the composites. The remaining portion was occupied by poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) poly(styrenesulfonate), which de-bundled and stabilized CNTs in water during synthesis processes. The concentrations of gold nanoparticles are below the percolation threshold of similar composites. However, with 15-vol% gold, the electrical conductivity of our composites was as high as ∼6×10(5) S/m, which is at least ∼500% higher than those of similar composites as well as orders of magnitude higher than those of other polymer composites containing CNTs and gold particles. According to our analysis with a variable range hopping model, the high conductivity can be attributed to gold doping on CNT networks. Additionally, the electrical properties of composites made of different types of CNTs were also compared.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Water, Nanomaterials, Gold, Composite material, Colloidal gold, Electrical conductivity, Carbon fiber


Recent advances in nanotechnology and material science have re-ignited interest in drug delivery research. Arguably, however, hardly any of the systems developed and strategies proposed are really relevant for shaping the future (clinical) face of the nanomedicine field. Consequently, as outlined in this commentary, instead of making ever more carrier materials, and making nanomedicine both science-fiction and fiction-science, we should try to come up with rational and realistic concepts to make nanomedicines work, in particular in patients.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Future, Thermodynamics, Nanomaterials, Materials science, Metaphysics, Science fiction, Nanomedicine


This review provides the first comprehensive overview of the use of both nanoparticles and nanofibers for topical drug delivery. Researchers have explored the use of nanotechnology, specifically nanoparticles and nanofibers, as drug delivery systems for topical and transdermal applications. This approach employs increased drug concentration in the carrier, in order to increase drug flux into and through the skin. Both nanoparticles and nanofibers can be used to deliver hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs and are capable of controlled release for a prolonged period of time. The examples presented provide significant evidence that this area of research has - and will continue to have - a profound impact on both clinical outcomes and the development of new products.

Concepts: Time, Pharmacology, Drug, Chemical properties, Nanomaterials, Drugs, Topical, Route of administration


This work introduces an additive direct-write nanofabrication technique for producing extremely conductive gold nanostructures from a commercial metalorganic precursor. Gold content of 91 atomic % (at. %) was achieved by using water as an oxidative enhancer during direct-write deposition. A model was developed based on the deposition rate and the chemical composition, and it explains the surface processes that lead to the increases in gold purity and deposition yield. Co-injection of an oxidative enhancer enabled Focused Electron Beam Induced Deposition (FEBID)-a maskless, resistless deposition method for three dimensional (3D) nanostructures-to directly yield pure gold in a single process step, without post-deposition purification. Gold nanowires displayed resistivity down to 8.8 μΩ cm. This is the highest conductivity achieved so far from FEBID and it opens the possibility of applications in nanoelectronics, such as direct-write contacts to nanomaterials. The increased gold deposition yield and the ultralow carbon level will facilitate future applications such as the fabrication of 3D nanostructures in nanoplasmonics and biomolecule immobilization.

Concepts: Molecule, Atom, Chemical element, Carbon, Nanomaterials, Aluminium, Electrical conductivity, Superconductivity


Nanoparticle-based therapeutics are being used to treat patients with solid tumors. Whereas nanoparticles have been shown to preferentially accumulate in solid tumors of animal models, there is little evidence to prove that intact nanoparticles localize to solid tumors of humans when systemically administered. Here, tumor and adjacent, nonneoplastic tissue biopsies are obtained through endoscopic capture from patients with gastric, gastroesophageal, or esophageal cancer who are administered the nanoparticle CRLX101. Both the pre- and postdosing tissue samples adjacent to tumors show no definitive evidence of either the nanoparticle or its drug payload (camptothecin, CPT) contained within the nanoparticle. Similar results are obtained from the predosing tumor samples. However, in nine of nine patients that were evaluated, CPT is detected in the tumor tissue collected 24-48 h after CRLX101 administration. For five of these patients, evidence of the intact deposition of CRLX101 nanoparticles in the tumor tissue is obtained. Indications of CPT pharmacodynamics from tumor biomarkers such as carbonic anhydrase IX and topoisomerase I by immunohistochemistry show clear evidence of biological activity from the delivered CPT in the posttreatment tumors.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Anatomical pathology, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Nanomaterials, Gastroesophageal reflux disease


Interest in hydrogen fuel is growing for automotive applications; however, safe, dense, solid-state hydrogen storage remains a formidable scientific challenge. Metal hydrides offer ample storage capacity and do not require cryogens or exceedingly high pressures for operation. However, hydrides have largely been abandoned because of oxidative instability and sluggish kinetics. We report a new, environmentally stable hydrogen storage material constructed of Mg nanocrystals encapsulated by atomically thin and gas-selective reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets. This material, protected from oxygen and moisture by the rGO layers, exhibits exceptionally dense hydrogen storage (6.5 wt% and 0.105 kg H2 per litre in the total composite). As rGO is atomically thin, this approach minimizes inactive mass in the composite, while also providing a kinetic enhancement to hydrogen sorption performance. These multilaminates of rGO-Mg are able to deliver exceptionally dense hydrogen storage and provide a material platform for harnessing the attributes of sensitive nanomaterials in demanding environments.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Hydrogenation, Carbon, Nanomaterials, Ion, Hydrogen economy, Hydride, Hydrogen storage


Nanolasers hold promise for applications including integrated photonics, on-chip optical interconnects and optical sensing. Key to the realization of current cavity designs is the use of nanomaterials combining high gain with high radiative efficiency. Until now, efforts to enhance the performance of semiconductor nanomaterials have focused on reducing the rate of non-radiative recombination through improvements to material quality and complex passivation schemes. Here we employ controlled impurity doping to increase the rate of radiative recombination. This unique approach enables us to improve the radiative efficiency of unpassivated GaAs nanowires by a factor of several hundred times while also increasing differential gain and reducing the transparency carrier density. In this way, we demonstrate lasing from a nanomaterial that combines high radiative efficiency with a picosecond carrier lifetime ready for high speed applications.

Concepts: Laser, Carbon, Nanomaterials, Sol-gel, Semiconductor, Silicon, Materials science, Ceramic engineering


A 2D metastable carbon allotrope, penta-graphene, composed entirely of carbon pentagons and resembling the Cairo pentagonal tiling, is proposed. State-of-the-art theoretical calculations confirm that the new carbon polymorph is not only dynamically and mechanically stable, but also can withstand temperatures as high as 1000 K. Due to its unique atomic configuration, penta-graphene has an unusual negative Poisson’s ratio and ultrahigh ideal strength that can even outperform graphene. Furthermore, unlike graphene that needs to be functionalized for opening a band gap, penta-graphene possesses an intrinsic quasi-direct band gap as large as 3.25 eV, close to that of ZnO and GaN. Equally important, penta-graphene can be exfoliated from T12-carbon. When rolled up, it can form pentagon-based nanotubes which are semiconducting, regardless of their chirality. When stacked in different patterns, stable 3D twin structures of T12-carbon are generated with band gaps even larger than that of T12-carbon. The versatility of penta-graphene and its derivatives are expected to have broad applications in nanoelectronics and nanomechanics.

Concepts: Nanomaterials, Semiconductor, Allotropy, Materials science, Silicon carbide, Young's modulus, Zinc oxide, Band gap