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Pitt researchers harness carbon nanomaterials for drug delivery systems, oxygen sensors
Date:8/17/2009

The tubes demonstrated sensitivity to oxygen concentrations as low as 5 percent (normal atmospheric concentration is around 20 percent) with the team calculating that it can indicate a level as low as 0.4 percent, and they were unaffected by other atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The second paper was authored by Shade and Pitt chemistry graduate students Douglas Kauffman and Hyounsoo Uh.

For both technologies, the Pitt teams worked with carbon nanomaterials to create enhanced versions of existing technologies. For instance, the oxygen sensor combines the small scale of carbon nanotubesthey are one-atom thick rolls of graphite 100,000 times smaller than a human hairwith the reactivity of the europium compound coating to produce a platform for low-cost, room-temperature detectors that are notably sensitive to oxygen but less complicated than existing sensors, the researchers write in Nature Chemistry.

Regarding the nanocapsules described in Advanced Materials, existing technologies are typically constructed of polymers that are permeable like a sponge and can result in leakage, Star explained. Additionally, each capsule must be tailored to its particular cargo, he said. The Pitt version employs graphite carbon shells bonded with glutaraldehydea common biological adhesivecreating a hollow storage space. More importantly, the graphite shells are chemically inactive and are thus compatible with any cargo substance without costly and time-consuming chemical preparation, Star said.

"For decades, researchers have been searching for an optimal vessel for storing and transporting a variety of cargo to specified locations," Star said. "Our devices have the potential to be universal delivery vehicles for a range of materials. Our next steps will focus on controlling how and when the nanocapsules open by using different stimuli such as pH, light, and chemical agents."


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Contact: Morgan Kelly
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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