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Contact lenses for diagnostic and therapeutic use

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Nov 23, 2020 (Nanowerk News) Human bodily fluids and secretions contain molecules known as biomarkers that contain a wealth of information about the body’s health and the presence of disease. Among secretions such as tears, sweat and saliva, tears are considered the best source of biomarkers, with concentrations similar to those found in blood. Tears are also sterile, readily available and less susceptible to the damaging effects of temperature change, evaporation and secretion rate. Useful and measurable biomarkers found in tears include sodium ions, which are useful indicators of dry-eye disease, and glucose molecules, an early diagnostic tool for diabetes. Also, measuring the pH of tears can be used to check for cell viability, drug effectiveness and for signs of disease. Therefore, the ability to collect tears in an effective way and to measure their pH and levels of biomarkers in real-time is highly desirable. One approach that is actively being explored is the idea of contact lens biosensors. Such contact lenses could be designed to include tiny channels on their surfaces for guiding the flow of tears into tiny reservoirs for collection and monitoring. Pliable and transparent materials, known as hydrogels, are currently being used commercially to make contact lenses; they are easy to work with and cost effective. However, to date, they have not been shown to be ideal materials with which to fashion channels and reservoirs, as they are sensitive to the fabrication techniques needed. In previous efforts, hydrogels have been vulnerable to deformities caused by the solvents or the temperature and vacuum conditions required by some fabrication methods. Other methods have produced hydrogel channels with rough surfaces or non-uniform dimensions. A collaborative team, which includes a group from the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation, has developed a fabrication method to meet all the challenges in making a hydrogel contact lens for biomarker sensing (Lab on a Chip, “Microengineered poly(HEMA) hydrogels for wearable contact lens biosensing”). Enlarged Prototype of Biosensor Lens with Reservoirs Enlarged prototype of biosensor lens with reservoirs. (Image: Khademhosseini Lab) The team began by optimizing the components of the hydrogel to obtain elastic characteristics which would allow it to be engineered into various shapes with a smooth surface profile. They next fashioned microchannels in the hydrogel with the use of a 3D printed mold. The final step in the fabrication process was to enclose the hydrogel channels by bonding an additional layer of hydrogel onto the microchannel surface. Once the successful prototype was completed, it was extensively tested for its performance in channeling and collecting fluids. Flow rates of artificial tears in the channels were measured at different levels of hydration, with zero flow measured at complete dehydration and full spontaneous flow observed at full hydration. A noteworthy observation during these tests was that when the hydrogel was mildly dehydrated, liquid flow in the channels would stop, but when additional rhythmic pressure was applied, the flow would resume. This was an important demonstration of support for the hypothesis that eye blinking would also provide the necessary pressure and additional hydration needed to allow for tear flow in the contact lens, and therefore, in the eye. “In addition to our successful fabrication of microchannels in commercial contact lens hydrogels, we also found that eye-blinking pressure may facilitate tear exchange in the lens through these microchannels, said Shiming Zhang, Ph.D., from the Terasaki Institute’s research team. “This is an exciting finding because it opens the possibility for the lenses to be a means of preventing dry eye disease, a condition commonly found in contact lens wearers. We aim to develop a patented contact lens that actively treats this condition by enhancing tear flow in the eye.” The team next prototyped sensors to collect, test for and measure pH levels of artificial tears flowing through the microchannels. Sodium levels were also tested, and the results showed an acceptable and predicted range of sodium detection for diagnostic purposes. Additional goals would be to fine-tune factors such as humidity, hydrogel hydration and applied pressure in order to enhance all the flow rates and dynamics of the biosensing contact lens. There are also plans to experiment with smaller channels in thinner hydrogel films before a final contact lens is devised. “The production of the successful prototype described here and the continuing efforts to perfect its capabilities mark a significant advance in contact lens biosensing,” said Ali Khademhosseini, Ph.D., director and CEO of the Terasaki Institute. “Such innovative work fits in well with our institute’s mission to create solutions that restore or enhance the health of individuals.”

Source: https://feeds.nanowerk.com/~/639151723/0/nanowerk/agwb~Contact-lenses-for-diagnostic-and-therapeutic-use.php

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New method makes graphene nanoribbons easier to produce

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Jan 11, 2021 (Nanowerk News) Russian researchers have proposed a new method for synthesizing high-quality graphene nanoribbons — a material with potential for applications in flexible electronics, solar cells, LEDs, lasers, and more. Presented in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (“Excitonic Photoluminescence of Ultra-Narrow 7-Armchair Graphene Nanoribbons Grown by a New “Bottom-Up” Approach on a Ni Substrate under Low Vacuum”), the original approach to chemical vapor deposition, offers a higher yield at a lower cost, compared with the currently used nanoribbon self-assembly on noble metal substrates. Silicon-based electronics are steadily approaching their limits, and one wonders which material could give our devices the next big push. Graphene, the 2D sheet of carbon atoms, comes to mind but for all its celebrated electronic properties, it does not have what it takes: Unlike silicon, graphene does not have the ability to switch between a conductive and a nonconductive state. This defining characteristic of semiconductors like silicon is crucial for creating transistors, which underlie all of electronics. However, once you cut graphene into narrow ribbons, they gain semiconducting properties, provided that the edges have the right geometry and there are no structural defects. Such nanoribbons have already been used in experimental transistors with reasonably good characteristics, and the material’s elasticity means the devices can be made flexible. While it is technologically challenging to integrate 2D materials with 3D electronics, there are no fundamental reasons why nanoribbons could not replace silicon. A more practical way to obtain graphene nanoribbons is not by cutting up graphene sheets or nanotubes but the other way around, by growing the material atom by atom. This approach is known as bottom-up synthesis, and unlike its top-down counterpart, it yields structurally perfect, and therefore technologically useful, nanoribbons. The currently dominant method for bottom-up synthesis, known as self-assembly, is costly and difficult to scale up for industrial production, so materials scientists are seeking alternatives to it. “Graphene nanoribbons are a material whose properties are of interest to fundamental science and hold a promise for applications in all sorts of futuristic devices. However, the standard technique for its synthesis has some drawbacks,” explained Pavel Fedotov, a senior researcher at the MIPT Laboratory of Nanocarbon Materials. “Maintaining ultrahigh vacuum and using a gold substrate is very costly, and the output of material is comparatively low.” “My colleagues and I have proposed an alternative way to synthesize atomically flawless nanoribbons. Not only does it work under normal vacuum and with the much cheaper nickel substrate, the yield increases by virtue of the nanoribbons being produced as multilayer films, rather than individually. To separate these films into monolayer ribbons, they are put in suspension,” the researcher went on. “Importantly, none of that compromises the quality of the material. We confirmed the absence of defects by obtaining the appropriate Raman scattering profiles and observing photoluminescence of our nanoribbons.” Graphene nanoribbons come in different types, and the ones that the Russian scientists manufactured using their original chemical vapor deposition technique have the structure depicted on the right in Figure 1. They are seven atoms wide and have edges someone found reminiscent of an armchair, hence the name: 7-A graphene nanoribbons. This type of nanoribbons has the semiconducting properties valuable for electronics, unlike its 7-Z cousin with zigzag edges (shown on the left), which behaves like a metal. Two graphene nanoribbon edge configurations Figure 1. Two nanoribbon edge configurations. The pink network of carbon atoms is a ribbon with zigzag (Z) edges, and the yellow one has so-called armchair (A) edges. Note that while nanoribbons come in many different widths, the ones in the image are by convention both considered to be seven atoms wide. (Image: Daria Sokol/MIPT) The synthesis occurs in an airtight glass tube evacuated to one-millionth the standard atmospheric pressure, which is still 10,000 times higher than the ultrahigh vacuum normally required for nanoribbon self-assembly. The initial reagent used is a solid substance containing carbon, hydrogen, and bromine and known as DBBA. It is placed in the tube with a nickel foil, pre-annealed at 1,000 degrees Celsius to remove oxide film. The glass tube with DBBA is then subjected to heat treatment for several hours in two stages: first at 190 C, then at 380 C. The first heating leads to the formation of long polymer molecules, and during the second stage, they transform into nanoribbons with atomically precise structure, densely packed into films that are up to 1,000 nanometers thick. After obtaining the films, the researchers suspended them in a solution and exposed them to ultrasound, breaking up the multilayer “stacks” into one-atom-thick carbon nanoribbons. The solvents used were chlorobenzene and toluene. Prior experiments showed these chemicals to be optimal for suspending nanoribbons in a stable manner, preventing aggregation back into stacks and the appearance of structural defects. Nanoribbon quality control was also done in suspension, via optical methods: The analysis of Raman scattering and photoluminescence data confirmed that the material had no significant defects. Because the new synthesis technology for manufacturing defectless multilayer 7-A carbon nanoribbons is comparatively cheap and easy to scale up, it is an important step toward introducing that material into the large-scale production of electronic and optical devices that would eventually vastly outperform the ones existing today. “Experience shows that once a new carbon material is discovered, that means new properties and new applications. And graphene nanoribbons were no different,” the head of the MIPT Laboratory of Nanocarbon Materials, Elena Obraztsova recalled. “Initially, nanoribbons were synthesized inside single-walled carbon nanotubes, which served to constrain ribbon width. It was on these embedded nanoribbons that luminescence was originally demonstrated, with its parameters varying with nanotube geometry.” “Our new approach — bottom-up chemical vapor deposition — enables ultranarrow graphene ribbons to be produced in large amounts and under fairly mild conditions: moderate vacuum, nickel substrate. The resulting material exhibits bright excitonic photoluminescence. It is promising for many applications in nonlinear optics, which we are going to pursue,” the researcher added.

Source: https://feeds.nanowerk.com/~/641383148/0/nanowerk/agwb~New-method-makes-graphene-nanoribbons-easier-to-produce.php

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A new approach to film atoms and molecules vibrating inside solids

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Jan 11, 2021 (Nanowerk News) Atoms or molecules constitute everything around us. In many solids, like common salt or iron, they are neatly arranged as repeated structures, called ‘crystal lattices’. The behaviour of a solid to any external factor, like applied force, is determined by the collective behaviour of the lattice, not individual atoms or molecules. Small vibrations of the constituents determine the collective response of the lattice. Instead of the individual constituents, it is this collective response that determines various natural phenomena, including how heat transports through solids and how materials change states between solids, liquids, and gases. In a new study (npj Computational Materials, “Four-dimensional imaging of lattice dynamics using ab-initio simulation”), researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have devised a theoretical method to predict variations of the lattice structure in response to external disturbances. This study, published in the journal npj Computational Materials, was partially funded by the IIT Bombay-Industrial Research and Consultancy Centre, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (now Ministry of Education), Department of Atomic Energy, and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Scientists probe variations in the lattice structure, or its dynamics, by first creating an external disturbance on the structure and then observing how the disturbance changes with time. The disturbance is often induced by short flashes of laser light. “If you disturb a solid by flashes of laser, its atoms start vibrating,” says Prof Gopal Dixit, one of the authors of the study. X-ray light or electrons can reveal the information about the position of the atoms and molecules in the lattice. Scientists bombard the solid with multiple X-ray or electron pulses at instances separated by a few femtoseconds –– that is, one thousand of a trillionth of a second. Thus, they can obtain images of the solid at these instances, which they stitch together to film the vibrating atoms. Such experiments are challenging to design, involving sophisticated instruments that are more expensive than standard laboratory microscopes and available in a few, rare facilities around the world. Only in the last decade have scientists been able to conduct such advanced experiments. An incident X-ray or electron pulse hits the sample, thus creating atomic vibrations. The response of the solid to the incident pulse is seen by the detector, an X-ray or electron camera An incident X-ray or electron pulse hits the sample, thus creating atomic vibrations. The response of the solid to the incident pulse is seen by the detector, an X-ray or electron camera. (Image: Aditya Prasad Roy, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay) On the other hand, studying the molecular arrangement of undisturbed solids is easier. For more than five decades, scientists have bombarded solids like silicon with X-ray or electrons beams and observed how this beam interacts with its lattice. “The response of the solid to the beam leaves specific imprints on the outgoing beam, revealing the atomic vibrations in the lattice,” says Prof Dipanshu Bansal, another author of the study. An innovative mathematical technique first invented by Joseph Fourier, called ‘Fourier analysis’, helps them in studying the small structures of the lattice in both space and time. In the current study, the researchers carried out mathematical calculations and demonstrated that one could use a similar technique to study solids subject to a temporary, external disturbance. They used an extended version of Fourier’s method along with the laws of quantum physics. Additionally, they used the fundamental idea that time flows in one direction. These led them to calculate a mathematical quantity which determines how the lattice structure reacts to the external disturbance. Using this mathematical quantity, also called the ‘response function’, the researchers predicted how solids would behave in time, down to a few femtoseconds, and space, down to fractions of a nanometre. Then, they calculated the response function from images available from experiments conducted over the last decade with lasers. This quantity, the researchers of the current study demonstrated, exactly matches the theoretical response function. Their calculation shows for the first time that there is no need to carry out the sophisticated experiments to study the dynamics of solids. There are other advantages. “Our proposed method does not require separate X-ray or electron pulses separated by fractions of picoseconds to study the dynamics. Instead, a single pulse is enough,” asserts Prof Dixit. The calculations take only a few days on personal computers, whereas the experiments can take days to months. The study has also brought together theorists and experimentalists. “Our work is a real success of collaborative efforts,” says Prof Bansal, an experimental scientist. “We needed the insight into the exact experimental conditions that were unexplained by theory, and theoretical physicists to rise to the task,” adds Prof Dixit, who is a theorist. “Although there are challenges in conducting experiments, the theoretical calculations have no limitations,” admits Prof Bansal, the experimentalist. The researchers assert that their method is applicable for solids in different environments like in a magnetic field, under external pressure, or high temperature. “This is not possible via even the most sophisticated microscopic experiments,” says Prof Bansal. While it is not easy to estimate the response function from the limited data available in experiments, rapid technological advancements are making it easier to conduct investigations. The researchers are planning to put their theory to the test for these experiments too.

Source: https://feeds.nanowerk.com/~/641381752/0/nanowerk/agwb~A-new-approach-to-film-atoms-and-molecules-vibrating-inside-solids.php

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Detecting COVID-19 antibodies in 10-12 seconds

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Home > Press > Detecting COVID-19 antibodies in 10-12 seconds

An image of the COVID-19 test chip made by aerosol jet nanoparticle 3D printing. CREDIT
Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Lab, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
An image of the COVID-19 test chip made by aerosol jet nanoparticle 3D printing. CREDIT
Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Lab, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract:
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University report findings on an advanced nanomaterial-based biosensing platform that detects, within seconds, antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to testing, the platform will help to quantify patient immunological response to the new vaccines with precision.

Detecting COVID-19 antibodies in 10-12 seconds


Pittsburgh, PA | Posted on January 8th, 2021

The results were published this week in the journal Advanced Materials. Carnegie Mellon’s collaborators included the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and the UPMC.

The testing platform identifies the presence of two of the virus’ antibodies, spike S1 protein and receptor binding domain (RBD), in a very small drop of blood (about 5 microliters). Antibody concentrations can be extremely low and still detected below one picomolar (0.15 nanograms per milliliter). This detection happens through an electrochemical reaction within a handheld microfluidic device which sends results almost immediately to a simple interface on a smart phone.

“We utilized the latest advances in materials and manufacturing such as nanoparticle 3D printing to create a device that rapidly detects COVID-19 antibodies,” said Rahul Panat, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon who uses specialized additive manufacturing techniques for research ranging from brain-computer interfaces to biomonitoring devices.

An additive manufacturing technology called aerosol jet 3D printing is responsible for the efficiency and accuracy of the testing platform. Tiny, inexpensive gold micropillar electrodes are printed at nanoscale using aerosol droplets that are thermally sintered together. This causes a rough, irregular surface that provides increased surface area of the micropillars and an enhanced electrochemical reaction, where antibodies can latch on to antigens coated on the electrode. The specific geometry allows the micropillars to load more proteins for detection, resulting in very accurate, quick results.

The test has a very low error rate because the binding reaction between the antibody and antigen used in the device is highly selective. The researchers were able to exploit this natural design to their advantage.

The results come at an urgent time during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because our technique can quantify the immune response to vaccination, it is very relevant in the current environment,” Panat said.

Panat collaborated with Shou-Jiang Gao, leader of the cancer virology program at UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Pitt. Azahar Ali, a researcher in Panat’s Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Lab, was the lead author of the study.

Rapid diagnosis for the treatment and prevention of communicable diseases is a public health issue that goes beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic. Because the proposed sensing platform is generic, it can be used for the rapid detection of biomarkers for other infectious agents such as Ebola, HIV, and Zika. Such a quick and effective test could be a game-changer for controlling the spread of diseases.

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About College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University is a top-ranked engineering college that is known for our intentional focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration in research. The College is well known for working on problems of both scientific and practical importance. Our “maker” culture is ingrained in all that we do, leading to novel approaches and transformative results. Our acclaimed faculty has a focus on innovation management and engineering to yield transformative results that will drive the intellectual and economic vitality of our community, nation and world.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lisa Kulick
412-268-5444

Copyright © College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

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Reference: “Sensing of COVID-19 antibodies in seconds via aerosol jet nanoprinted reduced graphene oxide coated three dimensional electrodes,” Advanced Materials. :

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Source: http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=56511

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Nanocrystals that eradicate bacteria biofilm

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Home > Press > Nanocrystals that eradicate bacteria biofilm

Schematic diagram showing removal of bacterial biofilm via Mtex CREDIT
POSTECH
Schematic diagram showing removal of bacterial biofilm via Mtex CREDIT
POSTECH

Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic is raising fears of new pathogens such as new viruses or drug-resistant bacteria. To this, a Korean research team has recently drawn attention for developing the technology for removing antibiotic-resistant bacteria by controlling the surface texture of nanomaterials.

Nanocrystals that eradicate bacteria biofilm


Pohang, South Korea | Posted on January 8th, 2021

A joint research team from POSTECH and UNIST has introduced mixed-FeCo-oxide-based surface-textured nanostructures (MTex) as highly efficient magneto-catalytic platform in the international journal Nano Letters. The team consisted of professors In Su Lee and Amit Kumar with Dr. Nitee Kumari of POSTECH’s Department of Chemistry and Professor Yoon-Kyung Cho and Dr. Sumit Kumar of UNIST’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

First, the researchers synthesized smooth surface nanocrystals in which various metal ions were wrapped in an organic polymer shell and heated them at a very high temperature. While annealing the polymer shell, a high-temperature solid-state chemical reaction induced mixing of other metal ions on the nanocrystal surface, creating a number of few-nm-sized branches and holes on it. This unique surface texture was found to catalyze a chemical reaction that produced reactive oxygen species (ROS) that kills the bacteria. It was also confirmed to be highly magnetic and easily attracted toward the external magnetic field. The team had discovered a synthetic strategy for converting normal nanocrystals without surface features into highly functional mixed-metal-oxide nanocrystals.

The research team named this surface topography – with branches and holes that resembles that of a ploughed field – “MTex.” This unique surface texture has been verified to increase the mobility of nanoparticles to allow efficient penetration into biofilm matrix while showing high activity in generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are lethal to bacteria.

This system produces ROS over a broad pH range and can effectively diffuse into the biofilm and kill the embedded bacteria resistant to antibiotics. And since the nanostructures are magnetic, biofilm debris can be scraped out even from the hard-to-reach microchannels.

“This newly developed MTex shows high catalytic activity, distinct from the stable smooth-surface of the conventional spinel forms,” explained Dr. Amit Kumar, one of the corresponding authors of the paper. “This characteristic is very useful in infiltrating biofilms even in small spaces and is effective in killing the bacteria and removing biofilms.”

“This research allows to regulate the surface nanotexturization, which opens up possibilities to augment and control the exposure of active sites,” remarked Professor In Su Lee who led the research. “We anticipate the nanoscale-textured surfaces to contribute significantly in developing a broad array of new enzyme-like properties at the nano-bio interface.”

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This research was conducted with the support from the Leader Researcher Program (Creative Research) of the National Research Foundation and the Institute for Basic Science of Korea.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jinyoung Huh
054-279-2415

Copyright © POSTECH

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