Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Properties of water at nanoscale will help to design innovative biomedical and energy technologies

Date:
April 29, 2014
Source:
Politecnico di Torino
Summary:
Scientists have just proposed a novel understanding of unexpected water properties at the nanoscale in the close proximity of solid surfaces. More rationally designed contrast agents for improved Magnetic Resonance Imaging performances are the first applications of the discovery.

have just proposed a novel understanding of unexpected water properties at the nanoscale in the close proximity of solid surfaces.
Credit: Image courtesy of Politecnico di Torino

Scientists from Politecnico di Torino (Turin, Italy) and Houston Methodist Research Institute (Houston, USA) have just proposed a novel understanding of unexpected water properties at the nanoscale in the close proximity of solid surfaces. More rationally designed contrast agents for improved Magnetic Resonance Imaging performances are the first applications of the discovery.

Mechanical engineers from both Department of Energy at Politecnico di Torino and Translational Imaging Department at Houston Methodist Research Institute have modeled and provided a novel insight of the surprising water properties at the nanoscale, even if many other intriguing water characteristics are still far to be fully unveiled. A broad range of technological applications may benefit from these findings, from engineering to biomedical field, as recently shown in a scientific paper published on Nature Communications.

Swimming in a honey pool. That's the sensation a water molecule should "feel" while approaching a solid surface within a nanometer (i.e. less than a ten-thousandth of hair diameter). The reduction in water mobility in the very close proximity of surfaces at the nanoscale is the well-known phenomenon of "nanoconfinement," and it is due to both electrostatic and van der Waals attractive forces ruling matter interactions at that scale.

In this context, scientists from Politecnico di Torino and Houston Methodist Research Institute have taken a further step forward, by formulating a quantitative model and a physical interpretation able of predicting the nanoconfinement effect in a rather general framework. In particular, geometric and chemical characteristics as well as physical conditions of diverse nanoconfining surfaces (e.g. proteins, carbon nanotubes, silica nanopores or iron oxide nanoparticles) have been quantitatively related to mobility reduction and "supercooling" conditions of water, namely the persistence of water in a liquid state at temperatures far below 0C, when close to a solid surface.

This result has been achieved after two years of in silico (i.e. computer-based) and in vitro (i.e. experiment-driven) activities by Eliodoro Chiavazzo, Matteo Fasano, Pietro Asinari (Multi-Scale Modelling Lab, Department of Energy at Politecnico di Torino) and Paolo Decuzzi (Center for the Rational Design of Multifunctional Nanoconstructs at Houston Methodist Research Institute).

This study may soon find applications in the optimization and rational design of a broad variety of novel technologies ranging from applied physics (e.g. "nanofluids," suspensions made out of water and nanoparticles for enhancing heat transfer) to sustainable energy (e.g. thermal storage based on nanoconfined water within sorbent materials); from detection and removal of pollutant from water (e.g. molecular sieves) to nanomedicine.

The latter is the field where the research has indeed found a first important application. Every year, almost sixty millions of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are performed, with diagnostic purposes. In the past decade, MRI technology benefitted from various significant scientific advances, which allowed more precise and sharper images of pathological tissues. Among other, contrast agents (i.e. substances used for improving contrast of structures or fluids within the body) importantly contributed in enhancing MRI performances.

This research activity has been able to explain and predict the increase in MRI performances due to nanoconfined contrast agents, which are currently under development at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. Hence, the discovery paves the way to further increase in the quality of MRI images, in order to possibly improve chances of earlier and more accurate detection of diseases in millions of patients, every year.

Additional results and applications of nanoconfinement effect on nanomedicine will be published soon, thanks to a multidisciplinary collaboration between biomedical (Houston Methodist), engineering (Politecnico di Torino) and chemical (Rice University, Houston-TX) research groups. In particular, iron oxide contrast agents loaded in silicon or polymeric nanovectors are currently investigated, because they can be first magnetically concentrated in human diseased tissues and then employed for enhancing MRI performances. Moreover, such a nanoconstructs own theranostic properties, which means that they can be used for diagnostic (i.e. MRI) and therapeutic (i.e. temperature triggered drug release or hyperthermia treatments) purposes at the same time, which is a significant step forward in the war on cancer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Politecnico di Torino. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eliodoro Chiavazzo, Matteo Fasano, Pietro Asinari, Paolo Decuzzi. Scaling behaviour for the water transport in nanoconfined geometries. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4565

Cite This Page:

Politecnico di Torino. "Properties of water at nanoscale will help to design innovative biomedical and energy technologies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085235.htm>.
Politecnico di Torino. (2014, April 29). Properties of water at nanoscale will help to design innovative biomedical and energy technologies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085235.htm
Politecnico di Torino. "Properties of water at nanoscale will help to design innovative biomedical and energy technologies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085235.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins