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1.  Spherulitic copper–copper oxide nanostructure-based highly sensitive nonenzymatic glucose sensor 
International Journal of Nanomedicine  2015;10(Spec Iss):165-178.
In this work, three different spherulitic nanostructures Cu–CuOA, Cu–CuOB, and Cu–CuOC were synthesized in water-in-oil microemulsions by varying the surfactant concentration (30 mM, 40 mM, and 50 mM, respectively). The structural and morphological characteristics of the Cu–CuO nanostructures were investigated by ultraviolet–visible (UV–vis) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy techniques. The synthesized nanostructures were deposited on multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT)-modified indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes to fabricate a nonenzymatic highly sensitive amperometric glucose sensor. The performance of the ITO/MWCNT/Cu–CuO electrodes in the glucose assay was examined by cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometric studies. The sensitivity of the sensor varied with the spherulite type; Cu–CuOA, Cu–CuOB, and Cu–CuOC exhibited a sensitivity of 1,229, 3,012, and 3,642 µA mM−1·cm−2, respectively. Moreover, the linear range is dependent on the structure types: 0.023–0.29 mM, 0.07–0.8 mM, and 0.023–0.34 mM for Cu–CuOA, Cu–CuOB, and Cu–CuOC, respectively. An excellent response time of 3 seconds and a low detection limit of 2 µM were observed for Cu–CuOB at an applied potential of +0.34 V. In addition, this electrode was found to be resistant to interference by common interfering agents such as urea, cystamine, L-ascorbic acid, and creatinine. The high performance of the Cu–CuO spherulites with nanowire-to-nanorod outgrowths was primarily due to the high surface area and stability, and good three-dimensional structure. Furthermore, the ITO/MWCNT/Cu–CuOB electrode applied to real urine and serum sample showed satisfactory performance.
PMCID: PMC4556295  PMID: 26346651
copper oxide; multiwalled carbon nanotubes; glucose sensor; cyclic voltammetry
2.  Defect density in multiwalled carbon nanotubes influences ovalbumin adsorption and promotes macrophage activation and CD4+ T-cell proliferation 
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are of great interest for the development of drugs and vaccines due to their unique physicochemical properties. The high surface area to volume ratio and delocalized pi-electron cloud of CNTs promote binding of proteins to the surface forming a protein corona. This unique feature of CNTs has been recognized for potential delivery of antigens for strong and long-lasting antigen-specific immune responses. Based on an earlier study that demonstrated increased protein binding, we propose that carboxylated multiwalled CNTs (MWCNTs) can function as an improved carrier to deliver antigens such as ovalbumin (OVA). To test this hypothesis, we coated carboxylated MWCNTs with OVA and measured uptake and activation of antigen-presenting cells (macrophages) and their ability to stimulate CD4+ T-cell proliferation. We employed two types of carboxylated MWCNTs with different surface areas and defects (MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30). MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30 have surface areas of ~215 m2/g and 94 m2/g, respectively. The ratios of D- to G-band areas (ID/IG) were 0.97 and 1.37 for MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30, respectively, samples showing that MWCNT-30 contained more defects. The increase in defects in MWCNT-30 led to increased binding of OVA as compared to MWCNT-2 (1,066±182 μg/mL vs 582±41 μg/mL, respectively). Both types of MWCNTs, along with MWCNT–OVA complexes, showed no observable toxicity to bone-marrow-derived macrophages up to 5 days. Surprisingly, we found that MWCNT–OVA complex significantly increased the expression of major histocompatibility complex class II on macrophages and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin 6), while MWCNTs without OVA protein corona did not. The coculture of MWCNT–OVA-complex-treated macrophages and OVA-specific CD4+ T-cells isolated from OT-II mice demonstrated robust proliferation of CD4+ T-cells. This study provides strong evidence for a role for defects in carboxylated MWCNTs and their use in the efficient delivery of antigens for the development of next-generation vaccines.
PMCID: PMC5015883  PMID: 27621627
MWCNT; protein corona; nanoparticle; defect; carboxylation; antigen presentation; immune response
3.  Thermal Annealing Effect on Poly(3-hexylthiophene): Fullerene:Copper-Phthalocyanine Ternary Photoactive Layer 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:914981.
We have fabricated poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT)/copper phthalocyanine (CuPc)/fullerene (C60) ternary blend films. This photoactive layer is sandwiched between an indium tin oxide (ITO)/poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT/PSS) photoanode and a bathocuproine (BCP)/aluminium photocathode. The thin films have been characterized by atomic force microscope (AFM) and ultraviolet/visible spectroscopy in order to study the influence of P3HT doping on the morphological and optical properties of the photoactive layer. We have also compared the I-V characteristics of three different organic solar cells: ITO/PEDOT:PSS/CuPc0.5:C600.5/BCP/Al and ITO/PEDOT:PSS/P3HT0.3:CuPc0.3:C600.4/BCP/Al with and without annealing. Both structures show good photovoltaic behaviour. Indeed, the incorporation of P3HT into CuPc:C60 thin film improves all the photovoltaic characteristics. We have also seen that thermal annealing significantly improves the optical absorption ability and stabilizes the organic solar cells making it more robust to chemical degradation.
PMCID: PMC3673347  PMID: 23766722
4.  Drug-loading capacity and nuclear targeting of multiwalled carbon nanotubes grafted with anionic amphiphilic copolymers 
In this study, three types of hybrid nanotubes (NTs), ie, oxidized multiwalled carbon NTs (COOH MWCNTs), heparin (Hep)-conjugated MWCNTs (Hep MWCNTs), and diblock copolymer polyglycolic acid (PGA)-co-heparin conjugated to MWCNTs (PGA MWCNTs), were synthesized with improved biocompatibility and drug-loading capacity. Hydrophilic Hep substituents on MWCNTs improved biocompatibility and acted as nucleus-sensitive segments on the CNT carrier, whereas the addition of PGA enhanced drug-loading capacity. In the PGA MWCNT system, the amphiphilic copolymer (PGA-Hep) formed micelles on the side walls of CNTs, as confirmed by electron microscopy. The PGA system encapsulated the hydrophobic drug with high efficiency compared to the COOH MWCNT and Hep MWCNT systems. This is because the drug was loaded onto the PGA MWCNTs through hydrophobic forces and onto the CNTs by π–π stacking interactions. Additionally, most of the current drug-carrier designs that target cancer cells release the drug in the lysosome or cytoplasm. However, nuclear-targeted drug release is expected to kill cancer cells more directly and efficiently. In our study, PGA MWCNT carriers effectively delivered the active anticancer drug doxorubicin into targeted nuclei. This study may provide an effective strategy for the development of carbon-based drug carriers for nuclear-targeted drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3838018  PMID: 24277987
carbon nanotube; amphiphilic copolymer; drug loading; nucleus targeting; cancer therapy
5.  Structural and optical properties of ZnO nanorods by electrochemical growth using multi-walled carbon nanotube-composed seed layers 
We reported the enhancement of the structural and optical properties of electrochemically synthesized zinc oxide [ZnO] nanorod arrays [NRAs] using the multi-walled carbon nanotube [MWCNT]-composed seed layers, which were formed by spin-coating the aqueous seed solution containing MWCNTs on the indium tin oxide-coated glass substrate. The MWCNT-composed seed layer served as the efficient nucleation surface as well as the film with better electrical conductivity, thus leading to a more uniform high-density ZnO NRAs with an improved crystal quality during the electrochemical deposition process. For ZnO NRAs grown on the seed layer containing MWCNTs (2 wt.%), the photoluminescence peak intensity of the near-band-edge emission at a wavelength of approximately 375 nm was enhanced by 2.8 times compared with that of the ZnO nanorods grown without the seed layer due to the high crystallinity of ZnO NRAs and the surface plasmon-meditated emission enhancement by MWCNTs. The effect of the MWCNT-composed seed layer on the surface wettability was also investigated.
PACS: 81.07.-b; 81.16.-c; 81.07.Pr; 61.48.De.
PMCID: PMC3284395  PMID: 22221386
ZnO nanorod arrays; multi-walled carbon nanotubes; electrochemical growth; crystallinity; photoluminescence
6.  Separation of Bacteria, Protozoa and Carbon Nanotubes by Density Gradient Centrifugation 
Sustainable production and use of carbon nanotube (CNT)-enabled materials require efficient assessment of CNT environmental hazards, including the potential for CNT bioaccumulation and biomagnification in environmental receptors. Microbes, as abundant organisms responsible for nutrient cycling in soil and water, are important ecological receptors for studying the effects of CNTs. Quantification of CNT association with microbial cells requires efficient separation of CNT-associated cells from individually dispersed CNTs and CNT agglomerates. Here, we designed, optimized, and demonstrated procedures for separating bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) from unbound multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and MWCNT agglomerates using sucrose density gradient centrifugation. We demonstrate separation of protozoa (Tetrahymena thermophila) from MWCNTs, bacterial agglomerates, and protozoan fecal pellets by centrifugation in an iodixanol solution. The presence of MWCNTs in the density gradients after centrifugation was determined by quantification of 14C-labeled MWCNTs; the recovery of microbes from the density gradient media was confirmed by optical microscopy. Protozoan intracellular contents of MWCNTs and of bacteria were also unaffected by the designed separation process. The optimized methods contribute to improved efficiency and accuracy in quantifying MWCNT association with bacteria and MWCNT accumulation in protozoan cells, thus supporting improved assessment of CNT bioaccumulation.
PMCID: PMC5132190  PMID: 27917301
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Tetrahymena thermophila; carbon-14; sucrose; iodixanol; bioaccumulation; bioconcentration; Stokes’ law
7.  Poly(lactic acid)/Carbon Nanotube Fibers as Novel Platforms for Glucose Biosensors 
Biosensors  2012;2(1):70-82.
The focus of this paper is the development and investigation of properties of new nanostructured architecture for biosensors applications. Highly porous nanocomposite fibers were developed for use as active materials in biosensors. The nanocomposites comprised poly(lactic acid)(PLA)/multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) fibers obtained via solution-blow spinning onto indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes. The electrocatalytic properties of nanocomposite-modified ITO electrodes were investigated toward hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) detection. We investigated the effect of carbon nanotube concentration and the time deposition of fibers on the sensors properties, viz., sensitivity and limit of detection. Cyclic voltammetry experiments revealed that the nanocomposite-modified electrodes displayed enhanced activity in the electrochemical reduction of H2O2, which offers a number of attractive features to be explored in development of an amperometric biosensor. Glucose oxidase (GOD) was further immobilized by drop coating on an optimized ITO electrode covered by poly(lactic acid)/carbon nanotube nanofibrous mats. The optimum biosensor response was linear up to 800 mM of glucose with a sensitivity of 358 nA·mM−1 and a Michaelis-Menten constant (KM) of 4.3 mM. These results demonstrate that the solution blow spun nanocomposite fibers have great potential for application as amperometric biosensors due to their high surface to volume ratio, high porosity and permeability of the substrate. The latter features may significantly enhance the field of glucose biosensors.
PMCID: PMC4263541  PMID: 25585633
nanofibers; glucose biosensor; carbon nanotube; poly(lactic acid)
8.  In situ-prepared composite materials of PEDOT: PSS buffer layer-metal nanoparticles and their application to organic solar cells 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):641.
We report an enhancement in the efficiency of organic solar cells via the incorporation of gold (Au) or silver (Ag) nanoparticles (NPs) in the hole-transporting buffer layer of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS), which was formed on an indium tin oxide (ITO) surface by the spin-coating of PEDOT:PSS-Au or Ag NPs composite solution. The composite solution was synthesized by a simple in situ preparation method which involved the reduction of chloroauric acid (HAuCl4) or silver nitrate (AgNO3) with sodium borohydride (NaBH4) solution in the presence of aqueous PEDOT:PSS media. The NPs were well dispersed in the PEDOT:PSS media and showed a characteristic absorption peak due to the surface plasmon resonance effect. Organic solar cells with the structure of ITO/PEDOT:PSS-Au, Ag NPs/poly(3-hexylthiophene):[6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PCBM)/LiF/Al exhibited an 8% improvement in their power conversion efficiency mainly due to the enlarged surface roughness of the PEDOT:PSS, which lead to an improvement in the charge collection and ultimately improvements in the short-circuit current density and fill factor.
PMCID: PMC3552830  PMID: 23173992
In situ preparation; PEDOT:PSS-metal NPs; Enhanced light absorption; Organic solar cells
9.  Occupational Nanosafety Considerations for Carbon Nanotubes and Carbon Nanofibers 
Accounts of chemical research  2012;46(3):642-649.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are carbon atoms arranged in a crystalline graphene lattice with a tubular morphology. CNTs exhibit high tensile strength, possess unique electrical properties, are durable, and can be functionalized. These properties allow applications as structural materials, in electronics, as heating elements, in batteries, in the production of stain-resistant fabric, for bone grafting and dental implants, and for targeted drug delivery. Carbon nanofibers (CNFs) are strong, flexible fibers that are currently used to produce composite materials.
Agitation can lead to aerosolized CNTs and CNFs, and peak airborne particulate concentrations are associated with workplace activities such as weighing, transferring, mixing, blending, or sonication. Most airborne CNTs or CNFs found in workplaces are loose agglomerates of micrometer diameter. However, due to their low density, they linger in workplace air for a considerable time, and a large fraction of these structures are respirable.
In rat and mouse models, pulmonary exposure to single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), or CNFs causes the following pulmonary reactions: acute pulmonary inflammation and injury, rapid and persistent formation of granulomatous lesions at deposition sites of large CNT agglomerates, and rapid and progressive alveolar interstitial fibrosis at deposition sites of more dispersed CNT or CNF structures.
Pulmonary exposure to SWCNTs can induce oxidant stress in aortic tissue and increases plaque formation in an atherosclerotic mouse model. Pulmonary exposure to MWCNTs depresses the ability of coronary arterioles to respond to dilators. These cardiovascular effects may result from neurogenic signals from sensory irritant receptors in the lung. Pulmonary exposure to MWCNTs also upregulates mRNA for inflammatory mediators in selected brain regions, and pulmonary exposure to SWCNTs upregulates the baroreceptor reflex. In addition, pulmonary exposure to MWCNTs may induce levels of inflammatory mediators in the blood, which may affect the cardiovascular system.
Intraperitoneal instillation of MWCNTs in mice has been associated with abdominal mesothelioma. MWCNTs deposited in the distal alveoli can migrate to the intrapleural space, and MWCNTs injected in the intrapleural space can cause lesions at the parietal pleura. However, further studies are required to determine whether pulmonary exposure to MWCNTs can induce pleural lesions or mesothelioma.
In light of the anticipated growth in the production and use of CNTs and CNFs, worker exposure is possible. Because pulmonary exposure to CNTs and CNFs causes inflammatory and fibrotic reactions in the rodent lung, adverse health effects in workers represent a concern. NIOSH has conducted a risk assessment using available animal exposure–response data and is developing a recommended exposure limit for CNTs and CNFs.
Evidence indicates that engineering controls and personal protective equipment can significantly decrease workplace exposure to CNTs and CNFs. Considering the available data on health risks, it appears prudent to develop prevention strategies to minimize workplace exposure. These strategies would include engineering controls (enclosure, exhaust ventilation), worker training, administrative controls, implementation of good handling practices, and the use of personal protective equipment (such as respirators) when necessary. NIOSH has published a document containing recommendations for the safe handling of nanomaterials.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4690205  PMID: 23210709
10.  Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Impair Kv4.2/4.3 Channel Activities, Delay Membrane Repolarization and Induce Bradyarrhythmias in the Rat 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101545.
The potential hazardous effects of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) on cardiac electrophysiology are seldom evaluated. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of MWCNTs on the Kv4/Ito channel, action potential and heart rhythm and the underlying mechanisms.
HEK293 cells were engineered to express Kv4.2 or Kv4.3 with or without KChIP2 expression. A series of approaches were introduced to analyze the effects of MWCNTs on Kv4/Ito channel kinetics, current densities, expression and trafficking. Transmission electron microscopy was performed to observe the internalization of MWCNTs in HEK293 cells and rat cardiomyocytes. Current clamp was employed to record the action potentials of isolated rat cardiomyocytes. Surface ECG and epicardial monophasic action potentials were recorded to monitor heart rhythm in rats in vivo. Vagal nerve discharge monitoring and H&E staining were also performed.
Induction of MWCNTs into the cytosole through pipette solution soon accelerated the decay of IKv4 in HEK293 cells expressing Kv4.2/4.3 and KChIP2, and promoted the recovery from inactivation when Kv4.2 or Kv4.3 was expressed alone. Longer exposure (6 h) to MWCNTs decreased the IKv4.2 density, Kv4.2/Kv4.3 (but not KChIP2) expression and trafficking towards the plasma membrane in HEK293 cells. In acutely isolated rat ventricular myocytes, pipette MWCNTs also quickly accelerated the decay of IKv4 and prolonged the action potential duration (APD). Intravenous infusion of MWCNTs (2 mg/rat) induced atrioventricular (AV) block and even cardiac asystole. No tachyarrhythmia was observed after MWCNTs administration. MWCNTs did not cause coronary clot but induced myocardial inflammation and increased vagus discharge.
MWCNTs suppress Kv4/Ito channel activities likely at the intracellular side of plasma membrane, delay membrane repolarization and induce bradyarrhythmia. The delayed repolarization, increased vagus output and focal myocardial inflammation may partially underlie the occurrence of bradyarrhythmias induced by MWCNTs. The study warns that MWCNTs are hazardous to cardiac electrophysiology.
PMCID: PMC4081717  PMID: 24992664
11.  Semitransparent inverted polymer solar cells employing a sol-gel-derived TiO2 electron-selective layer on FTO and MoO3/Ag/MoO3 transparent electrode 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):579.
We report a new semitransparent inverted polymer solar cell (PSC) with a structure of glass/FTO/nc-TiO2/P3HT:PCBM/MoO3/Ag/MoO3. Because high-temperature annealing which decreased the conductivity of indium tin oxide (ITO) must be handled in the process of preparation of nanocrystalline titanium oxide (nc-TiO2), we replace glass/ITO with a glass/fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) substrate to improve the device performance. The experimental results show that the replacing FTO substrate enhances light transmittance between 400 and 600 nm and does not change sheet resistance after annealing treatment. The dependence of device performances on resistivity, light transmittance, and thickness of the MoO3/Ag/MoO3 film was investigated. High power conversion efficiency (PCE) was achieved for FTO substrate inverted PSCs, which showed about 75% increase compared to our previously reported ITO substrate device at different thicknesses of the MoO3/Ag/MoO3 transparent electrode films illuminated from the FTO side (bottom side) and about 150% increase illuminated from the MoO3/Ag/MoO3 side (top side).
PMCID: PMC4202695  PMID: 25332693
Polymer solar cell; Indium tin oxide; Nanocrystalline titanium oxide; Power conversion efficiency
12.  Purification and sidewall functionalization of multiwalled carbon nanotubes and resulting bioactivity in two macrophage models 
Inhalation toxicology  2013;25(4):199-210.
This study examined the consequences of surface carboxylation of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) on bioactivity. Since commercial raw MWCNT contain impurities that may affect their bioactivity, HCl refluxing was exploited to purify raw “as-received” MWCNT by removing the amorphous carbon layer on the MWCNT surface and reducing the metal impurities (e.g. Ni). The removal of amorphous carbon layer was confirmed by Raman spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. Furthermore, the HCl-purified MWCNT provided more available reaction sites, leading to enhanced sidewall functionalization. The sidewall of HCl-purified MWCNT was further functionalized with the −COOH moiety by HNO3 oxidation. This process resulted in four distinct MWCNT: raw, purified, −COOH-terminated raw MWCNT, and −COOH-terminated purified MWCNT. Freshly isolated alveolar macrophages from C57Bl/6 mice were exposed to these nanomaterials to determine the effects of the surface chemistry on the bioactivity in terms of cell viability and inflammasome activation. Inflammasome activation was confirmed using inhibitors of cathepsin B and Caspase-1. Purification reduced the cell toxicity and inflammasome activation slightly compared to raw MWCNT. In contrast, functionalization of MWCNT with the −COOH group dramatically reduced the cytotoxicity and inflammasome activation. Similar results were seen using THP-1 cells supporting their potential use for high-throughput screening. This study demonstrated that the toxicity and bioactivity of MWCNT were diminished by removal of the Ni contamination and/or addition of −COOH groups to the sidewalls.
PMCID: PMC4127292  PMID: 23480196
Carboxylated; functionalized; inflammasome; MWCNT; toxicity
13.  Modulation of Apoptotic Pathways of Macrophages by Surface-Functionalized Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65756.
Biomedical applications of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) often involve improving their hydrophilicity and dispersion in biological media by modifying them through noncovalent or covalent functionalization. However, the potential adverse effects of surface-functionalized CNTs have not been well characterized. In this study, we functionalized multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) via carboxylation, to produce MWCNTs-COOH, and via poly (ethylene glycol) linking, to produce MWCNTs-PEG. We used these functionalized MWCNTs to study the effect of surface functionalization on MWCNTs-induced toxicity to macrophages, and elucidate the underlying mechanisms of action. Our results revealed that MWCNTs-PEG were less cytotoxic and were associated with less apoptotic cell death of macrophages than MWCNTs-COOH. Additionally, MWCNTs-PEG induced less generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) involving less activation of NADPH oxidase compared with MWCNTs-COOH, as evidenced by membrane translocation of p47phox and p67phox in macrophages. The less cytotoxic and apoptotic effect of MWCNTs-PEG compared with MWCNTs-COOH resulted from the lower cellular uptake of MWCNTs-PEG, which resulted in less activation of oxidative stress-responsive pathways, such as p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) and nuclear factor (NF)-κB. These results demonstrate that surface functionalization of CNTs may alter ROS-mediated cytotoxic and apoptotic response by modulating apoptotic signaling pathways. Our study thus provides new insights into the molecular basis for the surface properties affecting CNTs toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3675050  PMID: 23755279
14.  Fe2O3 Nanoparticles Wrapped in Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes With Enhanced Lithium Storage Capability 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3392.
We have designed a novel hybrid nanostructure by coating Fe2O3 nanoparticles with multi-walled carbon nanotubes to enhance the lithium storage capability of Fe2O3. The strategy to prepare Fe2O3@MWCNTs involves the synthesis of Fe nanoparticles wrapped in MWCNTs, followed by the oxidation of Fe nanoparticles under carbon dioxide. When used as the anode in a Li-ion battery, this hybrid material (70.32 wt% carbon nanotubes, 29.68 wt% Fe2O3) showed a reversible discharge capacity of 515 mAhg−1 after 50 cycles at a density of 100 mAg−1 and the capacity based on Fe2O3 nanoparticles was calculated as 1147 mAhg−1, Three factors are responsibile for the superior performance: (1) The hollow interiors of MWCNTs provide enough spaces for the accommodation of large volume expansion of inner Fe2O3 nanoparticles, which can improving the stability of electrode; (2) The MWCNTs increase the overall conductivity of the anode; (3) A stable solid electrolyte interface film formed on the surface of MWCNTs may reduce capacity fading.
PMCID: PMC3844968  PMID: 24292097
15.  Fabrication and characterization of branched carbon nanostructures 
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have atomically smooth surfaces and tend not to form covalent bonds with composite matrix materials. Thus, it is the magnitude of the CNT/fiber interfacial strength that limits the amount of nanomechanical interlocking when using conventional CNTs to improve the structural behavior of composite materials through reinforcement. This arises from two well-known, long standing problems in this research field: (a) inhomogeneous dispersion of the filler, which can lead to aggregation and (b) insufficient reinforcement arising from bonding interactions between the filler and the matrix. These dispersion and reinforcement issues could be addressed by using branched multiwalled carbon nanotubes (b-MWCNTs) as it is known that branched fibers can greatly enhance interfacial bonding and dispersability. Therefore, the use of b-MWCNTs would lead to improved mechanical performance and, in the case of conductive composites, improved electrical performance if the CNT filler was better dispersed and connected. This will provide major benefits to the existing commercial application of CNT-reinforced composites in electrostatic discharge materials (ESD): There would be also potential usage for energy conversion, e.g., in supercapacitors, solar cells and Li-ion batteries. However, the limited availability of b-MWCNTs has, to date, restricted their use in such technological applications. Herein, we report an inexpensive and simple method to fabricate large amounts of branched-MWCNTs, which opens the door to a multitude of possible applications.
PMCID: PMC5082318  PMID: 27826499
branched multiwalled carbon nanotubes; carbon nanostructures; carbon nanotubes; graphene nanoribbons; multiwalled carbon nanotubes
16.  Multi-walled carbon nanotubes induce COX-2 and iNOS expression via MAP Kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms in mouse RAW264.7 macrophages 
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are engineered graphene cylinders with numerous applications in engineering, electronics and medicine. However, CNTs cause inflammation and fibrosis in the rodent lung, suggesting a potential human health risk. We hypothesized that multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) induce two key inflammatory enzymes in macrophages, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), through activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1,2).
RAW264.7 macrophages were exposed to MWCNTs or carbon black nanoparticles (CBNPs) over a range of doses and time course. Uptake and subcellular localization of MWCNTs was visualized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Protein levels of COX-2, iNOS, and ERK1,2 (total ERK and phosphorylated ERK) were measured by Western blot analysis. Prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2) and nitric oxide (NO) levels in cell supernatants were measured by ELISA and Greiss assay, respectively.
MWCNTs, but not CBNPs, induced COX-2 and iNOS in a time- and dose-dependent manner. COX-2 and iNOS induction by MWCNTs correlated with increased PGE2 and NO production, respectively. MWCNTs caused ERK1,2 activation and inhibition of ERK1,2 (U0126) blocked MWCNT induction of COX-2 and PGE2 production, but did not reduce the induction of iNOS. Inhibition of iNOS (L-NAME) did not affect ERK1,2 activation, nor did L-NAME significantly decrease COX-2 induction by MWCNT. Nickel nanoparticles (NiNPs), which are present in MWCNTs as a residual catalyst, also induced COX-2 via ERK-1,2. However, a comparison of COX-2 induction by MWCNTs containing 4.5 and 1.8% Ni did not show a significant difference in ability to induce COX-2, indicating that characteristics of MWCNTs in addition to Ni content contribute to COX-2 induction.
This study identifies COX-2 and subsequent PGE2 production, along with iNOS induction and NO production, as inflammatory mediators involved in the macrophage response to MWCNTs. Furthermore, our work demonstrates that COX-2 induction by MWCNTs in RAW264.7 macrophages is ERK1,2-dependent, while iNOS induction by MWCNTs is ERK1,2-independent. Our data also suggest contributory physicochemical factors other than residual Ni catalyst play a role in COX-2 induction to MWCNT.
PMCID: PMC3485091  PMID: 22571318
Carbon nanotubes; Nanoparticles; Lung inflammation; Macrophages; Prostaglandins; Nitric oxide
17.  Improved field emission performance of carbon nanotube by introducing copper metallic particles 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):537.
To improve the field emission performance of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), a simple and low-cost method was adopted in this article. We introduced copper particles for decorating the CNTs so as to form copper particle-CNT composites. The composites were fabricated by electrophoretic deposition technique which produced copper metallic particles localized on the outer wall of CNTs and deposited them onto indium tin oxide (ITO) electrode. The results showed that the conductivity increased from 10-5 to 4 × 10-5 S while the turn-on field was reduced from 3.4 to 2.2 V/μm. Moreover, the field emission current tended to be undiminished after continuous emission for 24 h. The reasons were summarized that introducing copper metallic particles to decorate CNTs could increase the surface roughness of the CNTs which was beneficial to field emission, restrain field emission current from saturating when the applied electric field was above the critical field. In addition, it could also improve the electrical contact by increasing the contact area between CNT and ITO electrode that was beneficial to the electron transport and avoided instable electron emission caused by thermal injury of CNTs.
PMCID: PMC3212075  PMID: 21968066
18.  Optimization of an Electron Transport Layer to Enhance the Power Conversion Efficiency of Flexible Inverted Organic Solar Cells 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(12):1908-1912.
The photovoltaic (PV) performance of flexible inverted organic solar cells (IOSCs) with an active layer consisting of a blend of poly(3-hexylthiophene) and [6, 6]-phenyl C61-butlyric acid methyl ester was investigated by varying the thicknesses of ZnO seed layers and introducing ZnO nanorods (NRs). A ZnO seed layer or ZnO NRs grown on the seed layer were used as an electron transport layer and pathway to optimize PV performance. ZnO seed layers were deposited using spin coating at 3,000 rpm for 30 s onto indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated polyethersulphone (PES) substrates. The ZnO NRs were grown using an aqueous solution method at a low temperature (90°C). The optimized device with ZnO NRs exhibited a threefold increase in PV performance compared with that of a device consisting of a ZnO seed layer without ZnO NRs. Flexible IOSCs fabricated using ZnO NRs with improved PV performance may pave the way for the development of PV devices with larger interface areas for effective exciton dissociation and continuous carrier transport paths.
PMCID: PMC2991231  PMID: 21170411
Inverted organic solar cells; ZnO nanorods; Electron transport layer; Photovoltaic; Short circuit current density
19.  Optimization of an Electron Transport Layer to Enhance the Power Conversion Efficiency of Flexible Inverted Organic Solar Cells 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(12):1908-1912.
The photovoltaic (PV) performance of flexible inverted organic solar cells (IOSCs) with an active layer consisting of a blend of poly(3-hexylthiophene) and [6, 6]-phenyl C61-butlyric acid methyl ester was investigated by varying the thicknesses of ZnO seed layers and introducing ZnO nanorods (NRs). A ZnO seed layer or ZnO NRs grown on the seed layer were used as an electron transport layer and pathway to optimize PV performance. ZnO seed layers were deposited using spin coating at 3,000 rpm for 30 s onto indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated polyethersulphone (PES) substrates. The ZnO NRs were grown using an aqueous solution method at a low temperature (90°C). The optimized device with ZnO NRs exhibited a threefold increase in PV performance compared with that of a device consisting of a ZnO seed layer without ZnO NRs. Flexible IOSCs fabricated using ZnO NRs with improved PV performance may pave the way for the development of PV devices with larger interface areas for effective exciton dissociation and continuous carrier transport paths.
PMCID: PMC2991231  PMID: 21170411
Inverted organic solar cells; ZnO nanorods; Electron transport layer; Photovoltaic; Short circuit current density
20.  Efficient perovskite solar cells based on low-temperature solution-processed (CH3NH3)PbI3 perovskite/CuInS2 planar heterojunctions 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):457.
In this work, the solution-processed CH3NH3PbI3 perovskite/copper indium disulfide (CuInS2) planar heterojunction solar cells with Al2O3 as a scaffold were fabricated at a temperature as low as 250°C for the first time, in which the indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated glass instead of the fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO)-coated glass was used as the light-incidence electrode and the solution-processed CuInS2 layer was prepared to replace the commonly used TiO2 layer in previously reported perovskite-based solar cells. The influence of the thickness of the as-prepared CuInS2 film on the performance of the ITO/CuInS2(n)/Al2O3/(CH3NH3)PbI3/Ag cells was investigated. The ITO/CuInS2(2)/Al2O3/(CH3NH3)PbI3/Ag cell showed the best performance and achieved power conversion efficiency up to 5.30%.
PMCID: PMC4181615  PMID: 25278818
Solution-processed; Solar cells; (CH3NH3)PbI3; Perovskite; CuInS2
21.  Quantitative Techniques for Assessing and Controlling the Dispersion and Biological Effects of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes in Mammalian Tissue Culture Cells 
ACS nano  2010;4(12):7241-7252.
In vivo studies have demonstrated that the state of dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNT) plays an important role in generating adverse pulmonary effects. However, little has been done to develop reproducible and quantifiable dispersion techniques to conduct mechanistic studies in vitro. This study was to evaluate the dispersion of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) in tissue culture media, with particular emphasis on understanding the forces that govern agglomeration and how to modify these forces. Quantitative techniques such as hydrophobicity index, suspension stability index, attachment efficiency and dynamic light scattering were used to assess the effects of agglomeration and dispersion of as-prepared (AP), purified (PD) or carboxylated (COOH) MWCNT on bronchial epithelial and fibroblast cell lines. We found that hydrophobicity is the major factor determining AP- and PD-MWCNT agglomeration in tissue culture media but that the ionic strength is the main factor determining COOH-MWCNT suspendability. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) was an effective dispersant for MWCNT, providing steric and electrosteric hindrance that are capable of overcoming hydrophobic attachment and the electrostatic screening of double layer formation in ionic media. Thus, BSA was capable of stabilizing all tube versions. Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) provided additional stability for AP-MWCNT in epithelial growth medium (BEGM). While dispersion state did not affect cytotoxicity, improved dispersion of AP- and PD-MWCNT increased TGF-β1 production in epithelial cells and fibroblast proliferation. In summary, we demonstrate how quantitative techniques can be used to assess the agglomeration state of MWCNT when conducting mechanistic studies on the effects of dispersion on tissue culture cells.
PMCID: PMC3899393  PMID: 21067152
multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT); dispersion; hydrophobicity; ionic strength; bovine serum albumin; steric hindrance; cell culture medium
22.  Enhancing the performances of P3HT:PCBM – MoS3 based H2-evolving photocathodes with interfacial layers 
ACS applied materials & interfaces  2015;7(30):16395-16403.
Organic semiconductors have great potential for producing hydrogen in a durable and economically viable manner, as they rely on readily available materials and can be solution-processed over large areas. With the objective of building efficient hybrid organic-inorganic photo-electrochemical cells, we combined a noble metal-free and solution-processable catalyst for proton reduction, MoS3, and a poly-(3-hexylthiophene):phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT:PCBM) bulk heterojunction (BHJ). Different interfacial layers were investigated to improve the charge transfer between P3HT:PCBM and MoS3. Metallic Al\Ti interfacial layers led to an increase of the photocurrent up to 8 mA cm−2 at reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) potential with a 0.6 V anodic shift of the HER onset potential, a value close to the open circuit potential of the P3HT:PCBM solar cell. A 50 nm thick C60 layer also works as interfacial layer, with current density reaching 1 mA cm−2 at RHE potential. Moreover, two recently highlighted1 figures-of-merit, measuring the ratio of power saved, Φsaved,ideal and Φsaved,NPAC, were evaluated and discussed to compare the performances of various photocathodes assessed in a three-electrode configuration. Φsaved,ideal and Φsaved,NPAC use the RHE and a non-photoactive electrode with identical catalyst as dark electrode, respectively. They provide different information especially for the differentiation of the role of the photogenerating layer and the role of the catalyst. Best results were obtained with the Al\Ti metallic interlayer, with Φsaved,ideal and Φsaved,NPAC reaching 0.64 % and 2.05 % respectively.
PMCID: PMC4548795  PMID: 26151685
organic photovoltaics; photocathode; hydrogen evolution reaction; organic semiconductor; photocatalysis; molybdenum sulfide
23.  Size- and shape-dependent pleural translocation, deposition, fibrogenesis, and mesothelial proliferation by multiwalled carbon nanotubes 
Cancer Science  2014;105(7):763-769.
Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) have a fibrous structure similar to asbestos, raising concern that MWCNT exposure may lead to asbestos-like diseases. Previously we showed that MWCNT translocated from the lung alveoli into the pleural cavity and caused mesothelial proliferation and fibrosis in the visceral pleura. Multiwalled carbon nanotubes were not found in the parietal pleura, the initial site of development of asbestos-caused pleural diseases in humans, probably due to the short exposure period of the study. In the present study, we extended the exposure period to 24 weeks to determine whether the size and shape of MWCNT impact on deposition and lesion development in the pleura and lung. Two different MWCNTs were chosen for this study: a larger sized needle-like MWCNT (MWCNT-L; l = 8 μm, d = 150 nm), and a smaller sized MWCNT (MWCNT-S; l = 3 μm, d = 15 nm), which forms cotton candy-like aggregates. Both MWCNT-L and MWCNT-S suspensions were administered to the rat lung once every 2 weeks for 24 weeks by transtracheal intrapulmonary spraying. It was found that MWCNT-L, but not MWCNT-S, translocated into the pleural cavity, deposited in the parietal pleura, and induced fibrosis and patchy parietal mesothelial proliferation lesions. In addition, MWCNT-L induced stronger inflammatory reactions including increased inflammatory cell number and cytokine/chemokine levels in the pleural cavity lavage than MWCNT-S. In contrast, MWCNT-S induced stronger inflammation and higher 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine level in the lung tissue than MWCNT-L. These results suggest that MWCNT-L has higher risk of causing asbestos-like pleural lesions relevant to mesothelioma development.
PMCID: PMC4317921  PMID: 24815191
Fibrosis; mesothelial proliferation; multiwalled carbon nanotubes; parietal pleura; pleural inflammation
24.  Atomic Layer Deposition Coating of Carbon Nanotubes with Aluminum Oxide Alters Pro-Fibrogenic Cytokine Expression by Human Mononuclear Phagocytes In Vitro and Reduces Lung Fibrosis in Mice In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106870.
Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) pose a possible human health risk for lung disease as a result of inhalation exposure. Mice exposed to MWCNTs develop pulmonary fibrosis. Lung macrophages engulf MWCNTs and produce pro-fibrogenic cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and osteopontin (OPN). Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a novel process used to enhance functional properties of MWCNTs, yet the consequence of ALD-modified MWCNTs on macrophage biology and fibrosis is unknown.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether ALD coating with aluminum oxide (Al2O3) would alter the fibrogenic response to MWCNTs and whether cytokine expression in human macrophage/monocytes exposed to MWCNTs in vitro would predict the severity of lung fibrosis in mice. Uncoated (U)-MWCNTs or ALD-coated (A)-MWCNTs were incubated with THP-1 macrophages or human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and cell supernatants assayed for cytokines by ELISA. C57BL6 mice were exposed to a single dose of A- or U-MWCNTs by oropharyngeal aspiration (4 mg/kg) followed by evaluation of histopathology, lung inflammatory cell counts, and cytokine levels at day 1 and 28 post-exposure.
ALD coating of MWCNTs with Al2O3 enhanced IL-1β secretion by THP-1 and PBMC in vitro, yet reduced protein levels of IL-6, TNF-α, and OPN production by THP-1 cells. Moreover, Al2O3 nanoparticles, but not carbon black NPs, increased IL-1β but decreased OPN and IL-6 in THP-1 and PBMC. Mice exposed to U-MWCNT had increased levels of all four cytokines assayed and developed pulmonary fibrosis by 28 days, whereas ALD-coating significantly reduced fibrosis and cytokine levels at the mRNA or protein level.
These findings indicate that ALD thin film coating of MWCNTs with Al2O3 reduces fibrosis in mice and that in vitro phagocyte expression of IL-6, TNF-α, and OPN, but not IL-1β, predict MWCNT-induced fibrosis in the lungs of mice in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4162563  PMID: 25216247
25.  Dual functional nisin-multi-walled carbon nanotubes coated filters for bacterial capture and inactivation 
Removal of pathogens from water is one way to prevent waterborne illness. In this paper, we developed dual functional carbon nanotube (CNT) modified filters for bacterial capture and inactivation, utilizing multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) to coat on commercially available filters and making use of the exceptional adsorption property of CNTs to adsorb a natural antimicrobial peptide-nisin on it. Two types of MWCNTs with different outer layer diameters were used (MWCNTs1: <8 nm in diameter; MWCNTs2: 10–20 nm in diameter).
The thickness of MWCNT layers, surface morphology, and surface hydrophobicity of both types of MWCNT coated filters were characterized. The MWCNT coating on filters significantly increased the surface hydrophobicity. The absorption of nisin and the capture of bacterial pathogens were correlated with increased surface hydrophobicity. The MWCNTs1 and MWCNTs2 filters with 1.5 mg MWCNTs loading captured 2.44 and 3.88 log of cells, respectively, from aqueous solutions containing a total of ~106 CFU/mL cells. Nisin deposit at the amount of 0.5 mg on the surfaces of MWCNT filters significantly reduced the viability of captured B. anthracis cells by 95.71–97.19 %, and inhibited the metabolic activities of the captured cells by approximately 98.3 %.
The results demonstrated that the MWCNT-nisin filters achieved dual functions in bacterial pathogen capture and inhibition in one single filtration step, which is potentially applicable in removing undesired microorganisms from water sources and inhibiting captured Gram positive bacteria activities.
PMCID: PMC4619520  PMID: 26500694
Bacterial pathogens; Filters; Carbon nanotubes; Nisin; Capture; Inhibition

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