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1.  Functionalized polystyrene nanoparticles as a platform for studying bio–nano interactions 
Summary
Nanoparticles of various shapes, sizes, and materials carrying different surface modifications have numerous technological and biomedical applications. Yet, the mechanisms by which nanoparticles interact with biological structures as well as their biological impact and hazards remain poorly investigated. Due to their large surface to volume ratio, nanoparticles usually exhibit properties that differ from those of bulk materials. Particularly, the surface chemistry of the nanoparticles is crucial for their durability and solubility in biological media as well as for their biocompatibility and biodistribution. Polystyrene does not degrade in the cellular environment and exhibits no short-term cytotoxicity. Because polystyrene nanoparticles can be easily synthesized in a wide range of sizes with distinct surface functionalizations, they are perfectly suited as model particles to study the effects of the particle surface characteristics on various biological parameters. Therefore, we have exploited polystyrene nanoparticles as a convenient platform to study bio–nano interactions. This review summarizes studies on positively and negatively charged polystyrene nanoparticles and compares them with clinically used superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.250
PMCID: PMC4311717
amino groups; apoptosis; carboxyl groups; cell proliferation; leukemia cell lines; macrophages; mTOR; polystyrene nanoparticles
2.  Nanoparticle interactions with live cells: Quantitative fluorescence microscopy of nanoparticle size effects 
Summary
Engineered nanomaterials are known to enter human cells, often via active endocytosis. Mechanistic details of the interactions between nanoparticles (NPs) with cells are still not well enough understood. NP size is a key parameter that controls the endocytic mechanism and affects the cellular uptake yield. Therefore, we have systematically analyzed the cellular uptake of fluorescent NPs in the size range of 3.3–100 nm (diameter) by live cells. By using spinning disk confocal microscopy in combination with quantitative image analysis, we studied the time courses of NP association with the cell membrane and subsequent internalization. NPs with diameters of less than 10 nm were observed to accumulate at the plasma membrane before being internalized by the cells. In contrast, larger NPs (100 nm) were directly internalized without prior accumulation at the plasma membrane, regardless of their surface charges. We attribute this distinct size dependence to the requirement of a sufficiently strong local interaction of the NPs with the endocytic machinery in order to trigger the subsequent internalization.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.248
PMCID: PMC4273230  PMID: 25551067
cell membrane; endocytosis; fluorescence microscopy; nanoparticle; size effect
3.  Biopolymer colloids for controlling and templating inorganic synthesis 
Summary
Biopolymers and biopolymer colloids can act as controlling agents and templates not only in many processes in nature, but also in a wide range of synthetic approaches. Inorganic materials can be either synthesized ex situ and later incorporated into a biopolymer structuring matrix or grown in situ in the presence of biopolymers. In this review, we focus mainly on the latter case and distinguish between the following possibilities: (i) biopolymers as controlling agents of nucleation and growth of inorganic materials; (ii) biopolymers as supports, either as molecular supports or as carrier particles acting as cores of core–shell structures; and (iii) so-called “soft templates”, which include on one hand stabilized droplets, micelles, and vesicles, and on the other hand continuous scaffolds generated by gelling biopolymers.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.222
PMCID: PMC4273287  PMID: 25551041
biomacromolecules; biopolymer; colloid; nanoparticle; organic–inorganic hybrid; template
4.  Imaging the intracellular degradation of biodegradable polymer nanoparticles 
Summary
In recent years, the development of smart drug delivery systems based on biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles has become of great interest. Drug-loaded nanoparticles can be introduced into the cell interior via endocytotic processes followed by the slow release of the drug due to degradation of the nanoparticle. In this work, poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) was chosen as the biodegradable polymer. Although common degradation of PLLA has been studied in various biological environments, intracellular degradation processes have been examined only to a very limited extent. PLLA nanoparticles with an average diameter of approximately 120 nm were decorated with magnetite nanocrystals and introduced into mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The release of the magnetite particles from the surface of the PLLA nanoparticles during the intracellular residence was monitored by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) over a period of 14 days. It was demonstrated by the release of the magnetite nanocrystals from the PLLA surface that the PLLA nanoparticles do in fact undergo degradation within the cell. Furthermore, even after 14 days of residence, the PLLA nanoparticles were found in the MSCs. Additionally, the ultrastructural TEM examinations yield insight into the long term intercellular fate of these nanoparticles. From the statistical analysis of ultrastructural details (e.g., number of detached magnetite crystals, and the number of nanoparticles in one endosome), we demonstrate the importance of TEM studies for such applications in addition to fluorescence studies (flow cytometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy).
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.201
PMCID: PMC4222285  PMID: 25383302
biodegradation; mesenchymal stem cells; PLLA nanoparticles; transmission electron microscopy
5.  Ceria/silicon carbide core–shell materials prepared by miniemulsion technique 
Summary
For the first time we present the synthesis of CeO2/Si(O)C core–shell particles prepared by the miniemulsion technique. The Si(O)C core was obtained by means of a polycarbosilane precursor (SMP10), which was subsequently functionalized with ceria and pyrolyzed to the ceramic. The size of these particles could easily be adjusted by varying the surfactants and the surfactant concentration, or by the addition of comonomers. Hence particle sizes ranged from 100 to 1000 nm, tunable by the preparation conditions. All materials were characterized by photon cross correlation spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and elemental mapping investigations. Furthermore, first catalytic tests were carried out by temperature programmed oxidation (TPO) of methane, and the activity of this material in lowering the onset temperature of methane combustion by 262 K was documented.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.67
PMCID: PMC3190633  PMID: 22003469
ceria; cerium dioxide; core shell; miniemulsion; oxycarbide; silicon carbide; TPO catalytic
6.  Platinum nanoparticles from size adjusted functional colloidal particles generated by a seeded emulsion polymerization process 
Summary
The benefits of miniemulsion and emulsion polymerization are combined in a seeded emulsion polymerization process with functional seed particles synthesized by miniemulsion polymerization. A systematic study on the influence of different reaction parameters on the reaction pathway is conducted, including variations of the amount of monomer fed, the ratio of initiator to monomer and the choice of surfactant and composition of the continuous phase. Critical parameters affecting the control of the reaction are determined. If carefully controlled, the seeded emulsion polymerization with functional seed particles yields monodisperse particles with adjustable size and functionalities. Size-adjusted platinum-acetylacetonate containing latex particles with identical seed particles and varied shell thicknesses are used to produce arrays of highly ordered platinum nanoparticles with different interparticle distances but identical particle sizes. For that, a self-assembled monolayer of functional colloids is prepared on a solid substrate and subsequently treated by oxygen plasma processing in order to remove the organic constituents. This step, however, leads to a saturated state of a residual mix of materials. In order to determine parameters influencing this saturation state, the type of surfactant, the amount of precursor loading and the size of the colloids are varied. By short annealing at high temperatures platinum nanoparticles are generated from the saturated state particles. Typically, the present fabrication method delivers a maximum interparticle distance of about 260 nm for well-defined crystalline platinum nanoparticles limited by deformation processes due to softening of the organic material during the plasma applications.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.50
PMCID: PMC3190616  PMID: 22003452
colloid lithography; functional colloids; miniemulsion polymerization; nanoparticles; seeded emulsion polymerization
7.  Septipyridines as conformationally controlled substitutes for inaccessible bis(terpyridine)-derived oligopyridines in two-dimensional self-assembly 
Summary
The position of the peripheral nitrogen atoms in bis(terpyridine)-derived oligopyridines (BTPs) has a strong impact on their self-assembly behavior at the liquid/HOPG (highly oriented pyrolytic graphite) interface. The intermolecular hydrogen bonding interactions in these peripheral pyridine units show specific 2D structures for each BTP isomer. From nine possible constitutional isomers only four have been described in the literature. The synthesis and self-assembling behavior of an additional isomer is presented here, but the remaining four members of the series are synthetically inaccessible. The self-assembling properties of three of the missing four BTP isomers can be mimicked by making use of the energetically preferred N–C–C–N transoid conformation between 2,2'-bipyridine subunits in a new class of so-called septipyridines. The structures are investigated by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and a combination of force-field and first-principles electronic structure calculations.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.46
PMCID: PMC3190612  PMID: 22003448
oligopyridines; self-assembled monolayer; STM

Results 1-7 (7)