Novel Glass Nanoparticles may Revolutionise Biomedical Applications

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 8 2008 4:41 PM

Swiss researchers have devised a way to fabricate borosilicate glass nanoparticles used in microfluidic systems, so that they maintain their stability when subjected to temperature fluctuations and harsh chemical environments.

Professor Martin Gijs, who led the group of EPFL researchers associated with the study, says that their approach can extend the range of potential nanoparticle applications in biomedical, optical and electronic fields.

Nanoparticles' applications as potential transporters of antibodies, drugs, chemicals for use in diagnostic tests, targeted drug therapy, and for catalysing chemical reactions has been limited because they disintegrate or bunch together when exposed to elevated temperatures, certain chemicals, or even de-ionized water.

Although using borosilicate glass instead of silica glass or polymers could help overcome these limitations, their fabrication has been impossible to date due to the instability of the boron oxide precursor materials.

The EPFL researchers insist that they have a new approach to fabricate and characterize borosilicate glass nanoparticles, reports Nature Nanotechnology.

Apart from biomedical applications, according to the researchers, the new nanoparticles can also have applications in the production of photonic bandgap devices with high optical contrast, contrast agents for ultrasonic microscopy or chemical filtration membranes.