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Concept: Nanoparticle


The staining of neurons with silver began in the 1800s, but until now the great resolving power of the laser scanning confocal microscope has not been utilized to capture the in-focus and three-dimensional cytoarchitecture of metal-impregnated cells. Here, we demonstrate how spectral confocal microscopy, typically reserved for fluorescent imaging, can be used to visualize metal-labeled tissues. This imaging does not involve the reflectance of metal particles, but rather the excitation of silver (or gold) nanoparticles and their putative surface plasmon resonance. To induce such resonance, silver or gold particles were excited with visible-wavelength laser lines (561 or 640 nm), and the maximal emission signal was collected at a shorter wavelength (i.e., higher energy state). Because the surface plasmon resonances of noble metal nanoparticles offer a superior optical signal and do not photobleach, our novel protocol holds enormous promise of a rebirth and further development of silver- and gold-based cell labeling protocols.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Optics, Microscope, Gold, Surface plasmon resonance, Microscopy, Plasmon, Extraordinary optical transmission


In the quest for producing an effective clinically relevant therapeutic agent, scalability, repeatability, and stability are paramount. In this paper, gold nanoparticles (GNPs) with precisely controlled near infrared (NIR) absorption are synthesized by a single step reaction of HAuCl4 and Na2S2O3, without assistance of additional templates, capping reagents or seeds. The anisotropy in the shape of gold nanoparticles offers high NIR absorption making it therapeutically relevant. The synthesized products consist of GNPs with different shape and size, including small spherical colloid gold particles and non-spherical gold crystals. The NIR absorption wavelengths and particle size increase with increasing molar ratio of HAuCl4/Na2S2O3. Non-spherical gold particles can be further purified and separated by centrifugation to improve the NIR absorbing fraction of particles. In-depth studies reveal that GNPs with good structural and optical stability only form in a certain range of the HAuCl4/Na2S2O3 molar ratio, whereas higher molar ratios result in unstable GNPs, which lose their NIR absorption peak due to decomposition and reassembly via Ostwald ripening. Tuning the optical absorption of the gold nanoparticles in the NIR regime via a robust and repeatable method will improve many applications requiring large quantities of desired NIR absorbing nanoparticles.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Photon, Electromagnetic radiation, Gold, Sodium, Colloidal gold, Chloroauric acid, Sodium thiosulfate


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


We report on how to quantify the binding affinity between a nanoparticle and chemical functional group using various experimental methods such as cantilever assay, PeakForce quantitative nanomechanical property mapping, and lateral force microscopy. For the immobilization of Au nanoparticles (AuNPs) onto a microscale silicon substrate, we have considered two different chemical functional molecules of amine and catecholamine (dopamine was used here). It is revealed that catecholamine-modified surface is more effective for the functionalization of AuNPs onto the surface, which is compared with the amine-modified surface from our various experiments. The dimensionless parameter (i.e., ratio of binding affinity) introduced in this work from such experiments is useful in quantitatively depicting such binding affinity, indicating that the binding affinity and stability between AuNPs and catecholamine is approximately 1.5 times stronger than that of amine. Our study sheds light on the experiment-based quantitative characterization of the binding affinity between nanomaterial and chemical groups, which will eventually provide an insight into how to effectively design the functional material using chemical groups.

Concepts: Amine, Nanoparticle, Functional group, Nanotechnology, Gold, Alkene, Amide, Imine


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


We report an electrophoretic deposition method for the fabrication of gold nanoparticle (GNP) thin films as sensitive surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates. In this method, GNP sol, synthesized by a seed-mediated growth approach, and indium tin oxide (ITO) glass substrates were utilized as an electrophoretic solution and electrodes, respectively. From the scanning electron microscopy analysis, we found that the density of GNPs deposited on ITO glass substrates increases with prolonged electrophoresis time. The films possess high mechanical adhesion strength and exhibit strong localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) effect by showing high SERS sensitivity to detect 1 x 10-7 M rhodamine 6 G in methanol solution. Finally, the relationship between Raman signal amplification capability and GNP deposition density has been further investigated. The results of our experiment indicate that the high-density GNP film shows relatively higher signal amplification capability due to the strong LSPR effect in narrow gap regions between the neighboring particles on the film.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Gold, Surface plasmon resonance, Plasmon


To date, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been investigated for diverse bioapplications. Generally, AuNPs are engineered to possess surface coating with organic/inorganic shells to increase colloidal stability in biological solutions and to facilitate chemical conjugation. In the present study, we developed a strategy to prepare dextran-coated AuNPs with control over its size by simply boiling an aqueous solution of Au salt and dextran, in which dextran serves as both reducing agent for AuNP (Au(0)) formation from Au(III) and AuNP surface coating material. The prepared dextran-coated AuNPs (dAuNPs) maintained its colloidal stability under high temperature, high salt concentration, and extreme pH. Importantly, the dAuNP remarkably improved efficacy of an anti-cancer agent, doxorubicin (Dox), when harnessed as a Dox delivery carrier. The half-maximal inhibitory concentration (EC50) of Dox-conjugated dAuNP with diameter of 170 nm was ∼9 pM in HeLa cells, which was 1.1 × 10(5) times lower than that of free Dox and lower than any previously reported values of Dox-nanoparticle complex. Interestingly, smaller AuNPs with 30 and 70 nm showed about 10 times higher EC50 than 170 nm AuNPs when treated to HeLa cells after conjugation with Dox. To achieve high cytotoxicity as cancer therapeutics, Dox should be delivered into nucleus to intercalate with DNA double helix. We show here that Dox-AuNPs was far more efficient as an anti-cancer drug than free Dox by releasing from AuNPs through spontaneous degradation of dextran, allowing free diffusion and nuclear uptake of Dox. We also revealed that larger AuNPs with lower degree of dextran crosslinking promoted faster degradation of dextran shells.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Nanoparticle, Chemotherapy, Concentration, Chemistry, Gold, Doxorubicin


We report the preparation and characterization of spherical core-shell structured Fe3O4-Au magnetic nanoparticles, modified with two component self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) consisting of 3-mercaptophenylboronic acid (3-MBA) and 1-decanethiol (1-DT). The rapid and room temperature synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles was achieved using the hydroxylamine reduction of HAuCl4 on the surface of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)-immobilized iron (magnetite Fe3O4) nanoparticles in the presence of an aqueous solution of hexadecyltrimetylammonium bromide (CTAB) as a dispersant. The reduction of gold on the surface of Fe3O4 nanoparticles exhibits a uniform, highly stable, and narrow particle size distribution of Fe3O4-Au nanoparticles with an average diameter of 9 ± 2 nm. The saturation magnetization value for the resulting nanoparticles was found to be 15 emu/g at 298 K. Subsequent surface modification with SAMs against glucoside moieties on the surface of bacteria provided effective magnetic separation. Comparison of the bacteria capturing efficiency, by means of different molecular recognition agents 3-MBA, 1-DT and the mixed monolayer of 3-MBA and 1-DT was presented. The best capturing efficiency of E. coli was achieved with the mixed monolayer of 3-MBA and 1-DT-modified nanoparticles. Molecular specificity and selectivity were also demonstrated by comparing the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectrum of E. coli-nanoparticle conjugates with bacterial growth media.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nanoparticle, Escherichia coli, Chemistry, Magnetism, Proteobacteria, Magnetite


In this work, we focused on the label-free detection of simple protein binding using near-infrared light-responsive plasmonic nanoshell arrays with a controlled interparticle distance. The nanoshell arrays were fabricated by a combination of colloidal self-assembly and subsequent isotropic helium plasma etching under atmospheric pressure. The diameter, interparticle distance, and shape of nanoshells can be tuned with nanometric accuracy by changing the experimental conditions. The Au, Ag, and Cu nanoshell arrays, having a 240-nm diameter (inner, 200-nm polystyrene (PS) core; outer, 20-nm metal shell) and an 80-nm gap distance, exhibited a well-defined localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) peak at the near-infrared region. PS@Au nanoshell arrays showed a 55-nm red shift of the maximum LSPR wavelength of 885 nm after being exposed to a solution of bovine serum albumin (BSA) proteins for 18 h. On the other hand, in the case of Cu nanoshell arrays before/after incubation to the BSA solution, we found a 30-nm peak shifting. We could evaluate the difference in LSPR sensing performance by changing the metal materials.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Serum albumin, Surface plasmon resonance, Plasmon, Extraordinary optical transmission, Surface plasmon, Plasma oscillation, Waves in plasmas


Drug molecules with lack of specificity and solubility lead patients to take high doses of the drug to achieve sufficient therapeutic effects. This is a leading cause of adverse drug reactions, particularly for drugs with narrow therapeutic window or cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. To address these problems, there are various functional biocompatible drug carriers available in the market, which can deliver therapeutic agents to the target site in a controlled manner. Among the carriers developed thus far, mesoporous materials emerged as a promising candidate that can deliver a variety of drug molecules in a controllable and sustainable manner. In particular, mesoporous silica nanoparticles are widely used as a delivery reagent because silica possesses favourable chemical properties, thermal stability and biocompatibility. Currently, sol-gel-derived mesoporous silica nanoparticles in soft conditions are of main interest due to simplicity in production and modification and the capacity to maintain function of bioactive agents. The unique mesoporous structure of silica facilitates effective loading of drugs and their subsequent controlled release. The properties of mesopores, including pore size and porosity as well as the surface properties, can be altered depending on additives used to fabricate mesoporous silica nanoparticles. Active surface enables functionalisation to modify surface properties and link therapeutic molecules. The tuneable mesopore structure and modifiable surface of mesoporous silica nanoparticle allow incorporation of various classes of drug molecules and controlled delivery to the target sites. This review aims to present the state of knowledge of currently available drug delivery system and identify properties of an ideal drug carrier for specific application, focusing on mesoporous silica nanoparticles.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Nanoparticle, Adverse drug reaction, Materials, Mesoporous material, Mesoporous silica, Silicon compounds, Drug carrier