Navigation Links
Technique controls nanoparticle size, makes large numbers

In a world that constantly strives for bigger and bigger, Washington Universitys Pratim Biswas, Ph.D., the Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor and chair of the Washington University Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, is working to make things smaller and smaller.

Biswas conducts research on nanoparticles, which are the building blocks for nanotechnology. For the first time, Biswas has shown that he can independently control the size of the nanoparticles that he makes, keeping their other properties the same. Hes also shown with his technique that the nanoparticles can be made in large quantities in scalable systems, opening up the possibility for more applications and different techniques.

Nanotechnology has far-reaching applications in microelectronics, renewable energy, and medicine, just to name a few. But the first step is synthesizing and understanding nanoparticles.

A nanoparticle is 100 nanometers and a nanometer is 1/1000 of a micrometer. To put it into perspective, a hair is about 50-100 micrometers thick.

Its difficult to imagine dividing a meter up into a million pieces and then a nanometer is a thousandth of that, explained Biswas. These are very tiny particles.

This small size is critical in the applications. By varying the size, nanoparticles can efficiently be tuned to perform a specific task, be it cosmetics or pollution clean up.

When I reduce the size of the objectthen the properties are very different. They can have certain unique properties, said Biswas. By changing the size and the crystal structure you can tune the functionality.

Fabulous Flames

To make these nanoparticles and alter their size, Biswas uses a flame aerosol reactor (FLAR). The flame provides a high temperature environment in which molecules can be assembled in a single step.

Bring the material in, react it, form the particles and then collect it and go and use it, said Biswas.

This technique also allows for mass production, once the conditions to produce the desired material have been determined. Biswas deals with milligram and gram quantities in the lab, but he indicates that these processes can be readily scaled up to produce larger quantities with a bigger reactor.

Biswas described the technique and his work in the July 2007 issue of Nanotechnology.

Controlling the size of these particles is what opens doors to new and unique uses.

The applications are plentiful, said Biswas. The other thing is, if I can make materials of very narrow sizes, I can study the properties as a function of size, which has not been possible in the past, with very precise controls so we can do fundamental research. And that allows me to come up with new applications.

Dig those crazy tires

Such new applications may even change the way we think about driving. Tired of boring, black car tires? With nanotechnology, tires could become a fashion statement with red, pink, blue, green, any color you want as possibilities.

All tires are black in color because of the carbon that is added. The colors not important but now you could add a silica-based material which will allow you to get any color of your choice, said Biswas. Nanoparticles are going to be used everywhere. They are already being used in many applicationscosmetics, microelectronicsbut now you are going to use it for tires.

With all of these new applications come budding new fields of study. One area is nanotoxicology, which researches the health and environmental safety of new materials containing nanoparticles. To test safety, nanotechnologists join forces with biologists to determine the safety of different-sized particles. For example, one size particle may provide the best effects in a cosmetic, but manufacturers must make sure that it shouldnt cause toxic effects in a persons body.

We dont want to just release it to the environment. The general feeling is that you have to be proactive, make sure everything is OK and then go, so here you are trying to be as cautious as possible, said Biswas.

Biswas work focuses mainly on making the nanoparticles, but his research has led to a variety of applications and collaborations. Biswas is currently collaborating with Sam Achilefu, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology in the Washington University School of Medicine. Achilefu is working to selectively deposit imaging agents. Rather than flood a cancer patients body with a drug during chemotherapy, for example, nanotechnology and selective deposits could deliver and concentrate the drug in the region of the tumor.

These are very preliminary results, said Biswas, but were getting some neat results. So there are some cautious examples, like toxicology, but then there are many useful applications.

Biswas also stresses the importance in the global marketplace. Nanotechnology has the potential to clean up water to provide drinking water for rural populations worldwide. Such efforts make a big social message, said Biswas. Renewable energy is yet another possibility in the realm of nanotechnology.

The possibilities of nanotechnology are endless, and everyday Biswas embarks on this exciting journey.

Thats the beauty here. At Washington University we have a very strong aerosol science and technology group, I would say one of the strongest, in this area, said Biswas. Furthermore, there are many collaborators in different disciplines where we can explore new application areas. So our ability to make tailor-made nanoparticles with very tight control on properties will allow more applications to be invented. Thats the driving force the ability to synthesize nanoparticles; they are the building blocks of nanotechnology.


Contact: Pratim Biswas
Washington University in St. Louis

Related biology news :

1. New technique can be breakthrough for early cancer diagnosis
2. University of Leicester scientists discover technique to help friendly bacteria
3. New technique reveals subtle force-induced changes in biomolecules conformation
4. New magnetic separation technique might detect multiple pathogens at once
5. New technique captures chemical reactions in a single living cell at unprecedented resolution
6. Software Techniques Inc. Selects M2SYS Fingerprint Software to Meet Continuous Growth and Demand for Desktop Biometric Time & Attendance Solutions
7. New X-ray technique targets terrorists and tumors
8. Circadian clock controls plant growth hormone
9. Too much sugar turns off gene that controls the effects of sex steroids
10. Novel 3-D cell culture model shows selective tumor uptake of nanoparticles
11. New nanoparticle vaccine is more effective but less expensive
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/18/2015)... York , November 18, 2015 ... Research has published a new market report titled  Gesture ... Trends, and Forecast, 2015 - 2021. According to the report, ... 2014 and is anticipated to reach US$29.1 bn by ... 2021. North America dominated ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 ... au 19 novembre  2015.  --> Paris ... --> DERMALOG, le leader de l,innovation biométrique, ... la fois passeports et empreintes sur la même surface ... les passeports et l,autre pour les empreintes digitales. Désormais, ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... SOUTH EASTON, Mass. , Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... "Company"), a leader in the development and sale of ... to the worldwide life sciences industry, today announced it ... closing of its $5 million Private Placement (the "Offering"), ... Offering to $4,025,000.  One or more additional closings are ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... November 27, 2015 ... popularity of companion diagnostics is one of ... market with pharmaceutical companies and diagnostic manufacturers ... tests. . --> ... report on global cancer biomarkers market spread ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced  today that its ... (Rights Plan) in an effort to preserve the value ... 382 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). ... its NOLs could be substantially limited if the Company ... of the Code. In general, an ownership change occurs ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting ... New York . ... website approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to ... the presentation will be available on the website approximately ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... PORTLAND, Oregon , November 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Deep Market Research Report is a professional and ... Genomics industry.      (Logo: ... basic overview of the industry including definitions, classifications, ... analysis is provided for the international markets including ...
Breaking Biology Technology: