Volume 5, Number 13, July - September, 2013

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“Nanovolcanoes” carved out of a synthetic polymer with UV light can store and release precise amounts of materials suitable for drug-delivery technologies. Researchers from North Carolina State University created the nanovolcanoes by placing transparent, spherical nanoparticles directly on a thin film that, when shone with UV light, underwent a chemical change. The film was submerged into a liquid solution that washed away the parts of the film exposed to the light, yielding a small mound with a hollow core and shaped like a nanoscale volcano (Ref: Balasubramanian, Nano-Volcanoes: Synthetic polymers for Drug Delivery, Discovery Pharmacy, 2013, 5(13), 3), (Image: cdn.physorg.com).

PHARMACY OF THE MONTH

Nano-Volcanoes: Synthetic polymers for Drug Delivery

Balasubramanian J

“Nanovolcanoes” carved out of a synthetic polymer with UV light can store and release precise amounts of materials suitable for drug-delivery technologies. Researchers from North Carolina State University created the nanovolcanoes by placing transparent, spherical nanoparticles directly on a thin film that, when shone with UV light, underwent a chemical change. The film was submerged into a liquid solution that washed away the parts of the film exposed to the light, yielding a small mound with a hollow core and shaped like a nanoscale volcano. The pattern of light can be control by changing the diameter of the nanoparticle spheres, or by changing the wavelength of the light that shine through the spheres. A highly accurate computer model was developed to predict the shape and dimensions of the nanovolcanoes based on the diameter of the nanoscale sphere and the wavelength of light. It is a good candidate for drug-delivery mechanisms. By controlling the cavity’s size, the researchers are able to control the size of the drug payload. And, like a volcano, the structures have a hole at the top, the size of which controls the rate of release. Dr. Chih-Hao Chang assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering said we can produce the nanovolcanoes in a uniformly patterned array, which may be useful for controlling drug delivery. The materials used in this process are relatively inexpensive, and the process can be easily scaled up. The researchers are now working to improve the understanding of the nanovolcano’s release rate, including how quickly nanoparticles of different sizes will “escape” from different-sized volcano mouths. The interaction between light and colloidal elements can result in a wealth of interesting near-field optical patterns. By examining the optical and colloidal properties, the intensity distribution can be tailored and harnessed for three-dimensional nanolithography. This well-defined surface hollow structure can be functionalized for applications in controlled drug delivery and bio-trapping.

Discovery Pharmacy, 2013, 5(13), 3

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