September 9, 2008

Stable ‘Pyrex’ Nanoparticles Are Created

Swiss scientists have found a way to fabricate borosilicate glass nanoparticles that are more stable than nanoparticles made of polymers or silica glass.

Used in microfluidic systems, the new nanoparticles remain more stable when subjected to temperature fluctuations and harsh chemical environments than currently used nanoparticles, the researchers said.

Nanoparticles have generated wide interest as potential transporters of antibodies, drugs or chemicals for use in diagnostic tests or similar purposes. However, such applications are limited because nanoparticles disintegrate or bunch together when exposed to elevated temperatures, certain chemicals or even de-ionized water.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology scientists discovered using borosilicate glass -- the original "Pyrex" -- instead of silica glass or polymers overcomes those limitations but fabrication has been hampered by the instability of the boron oxide precursor materials.

Now the scientists led by Professor Martin Gijs have developed a procedure to fabricate and characterize borosilicate glass nanoparticles that could also have applications in the production of photonic bandgap devices with high optical contrast, contrast agents for ultrasonic microscopy or chemical filtration membranes.

The research appears in the advance online issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.