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1.  Poly-l-lysine-coated magnetic nanoparticles as intracellular actuators for neural guidance 
It has been proposed in the literature that Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) could be exploited to enhance or accelerate nerve regeneration and to provide guidance for regenerating axons. MNPs could create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons. Particles suitable for this purpose should possess (1) high saturation magnetization, (2) a negligible cytotoxic profile, and (3) a high capacity to magnetize mammalian cells. Unfortunately, the materials currently available on the market do not satisfy these criteria; therefore, this work attempts to overcome these deficiencies.
Magnetite particles were synthesized by an oxidative hydrolysis method and characterized based on their external morphology and size distribution (high-resolution transmission electron microscopy [HR-TEM]) as well as their colloidal (Z potential) and magnetic properties (Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices [SQUID]). Cell viability was assessed via Trypan blue dye exclusion assay, cell doubling time, and MTT cell proliferation assay and reactive oxygen species production. Particle uptake was monitored via Prussian blue staining, intracellular iron content quantification via a ferrozine-based assay, and direct visualization by dual-beam (focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy [FIB/SEM]) analysis. Experiments were performed on human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line and primary Schwann cell cultures of the peripheral nervous system.
This paper reports on the synthesis and characterization of polymer-coated magnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles with an average diameter of 73 ± 6 nm that are designed as magnetic actuators for neural guidance. The cells were able to incorporate quantities of iron up to 2 pg/cell. The intracellular distribution of MNPs obtained by optical and electronic microscopy showed large structures of MNPs crossing the cell membrane into the cytoplasm, thus rendering them suitable for magnetic manipulation by external magnetic fields. Specifically, migration experiments under external magnetic fields confirmed that these MNPs can effectively actuate the cells, thus inducing measurable migration towards predefined directions more effectively than commercial nanoparticles (fluidMAG-ARA supplied by Chemicell). There were no observable toxic effects from MNPs on cell viability for working concentrations of 10 μg/mL (EC25 of 20.8 μg/mL, compared to 12 μg/mL in fluidMAG-ARA). Cell proliferation assays performed with primary cell cultures of the peripheral nervous system confirmed moderate cytotoxicity (EC25 of 10.35 μg/mL).
These results indicate that loading neural cells with the proposed MNPs is likely to be an effective strategy for promoting non-invasive neural regeneration through cell magnetic actuation.
PMCID: PMC3394465  PMID: 22811603
magnetic nanoparticle; actuator; migration; neural regeneration
2.  Nanoscale chemical and structural study of Co-based FEBID structures by STEM-EELS and HRTEM 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):592.
Nanolithography techniques in a scanning electron microscope/focused ion beam are very attractive tools for a number of synthetic processes, including the fabrication of ferromagnetic nano-objects, with potential applications in magnetic storage or magnetic sensing. One of the most versatile techniques is the focused electron beam induced deposition, an efficient method for the production of magnetic structures highly resolved at the nanometric scale. In this work, this method has been applied to the controlled growth of magnetic nanostructures using Co2(CO)8. The chemical and structural properties of these deposits have been studied by electron energy loss spectroscopy and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy at the nanometric scale. The obtained results allow us to correlate the chemical and structural properties with the functionality of these magnetic nanostructures.
PMCID: PMC3237113  PMID: 22085532
Co deposits; FEBID; EELS; HRTEM
3.  Distinguishing magnetic and electrostatic interactions by a Kelvin probe force microscopy–magnetic force microscopy combination 
The most outstanding feature of scanning force microscopy (SFM) is its capability to detect various different short and long range interactions. In particular, magnetic force microscopy (MFM) is used to characterize the domain configuration in ferromagnetic materials such as thin films grown by physical techniques or ferromagnetic nanostructures. It is a usual procedure to separate the topography and the magnetic signal by scanning at a lift distance of 25–50 nm such that the long range tip–sample interactions dominate. Nowadays, MFM is becoming a valuable technique to detect weak magnetic fields arising from low dimensional complex systems such as organic nanomagnets, superparamagnetic nanoparticles, carbon-based materials, etc. In all these cases, the magnetic nanocomponents and the substrate supporting them present quite different electronic behavior, i.e., they exhibit large surface potential differences causing heterogeneous electrostatic interaction between the tip and the sample that could be interpreted as a magnetic interaction. To distinguish clearly the origin of the tip–sample forces we propose to use a combination of Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) and MFM. The KPFM technique allows us to compensate in real time the electrostatic forces between the tip and the sample by minimizing the electrostatic contribution to the frequency shift signal. This is a great challenge in samples with low magnetic moment. In this work we studied an array of Co nanostructures that exhibit high electrostatic interaction with the MFM tip. Thanks to the use of the KPFM/MFM system we were able to separate the electric and magnetic interactions between the tip and the sample.
PMCID: PMC3190625  PMID: 22003461
electrostatic interaction; focused electron beam induced deposition; Kelvin probe force microscopy; magnetic force microscopy; magnetic nanostructures
4.  Hysteresis loops of individual Co nanostripes measured by magnetic force microscopy 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):407.
High-resolution magnetic imaging is of utmost importance to understand magnetism at the nanoscale. In the present work, we use a magnetic force microscope (MFM) operating under in-plane magnetic field in order to observe with high accuracy the domain configuration changes in Co nanowires as a function of the externally applied magnetic field. The main result is the quantitative evaluation of the coercive field of the individual nanostructures. Such characterization is performed by using an MFM-based technique in which a map of the magnetic signal is obtained as a function of both the lateral displacement and the magnetic field.
PMCID: PMC3211502  PMID: 21711935

Results 1-4 (4)