Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researchers discover evidence to support controversial theory of 'buckyball' formation: Discovery could have a bearing on medical imaging, cancer treatment

Harry Dorn, a professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, poses with models of "buckyballs." His research supports the theory that a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle commonly called a buckyball is the result of a breakdown of larger structures rather than being built atom-by-atom from the ground up.

Credit: Virginia Tech
Harry Dorn, a professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, poses with models of "buckyballs." His research supports the theory that a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle commonly called a buckyball is the result of a breakdown of larger structures rather than being built atom-by-atom from the ground up.

Credit: Virginia Tech

Abstract:
Researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have reported the first experimental evidence that supports the theory that a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle commonly called a buckyball is the result of a breakdown of larger structures rather than being built atom-by-atom from the ground up.

Researchers discover evidence to support controversial theory of 'buckyball' formation: Discovery could have a bearing on medical imaging, cancer treatment

Blacksburg, VA | Posted on September 16th, 2013

Technically known as fullerenes, these spherical carbon molecules have shown great promise for uses in medicine, solar energy, and optoelectronics. But finding applications for these peculiar structures has been difficult because no one knows exactly how they are formed.

Two theories compete regarding the molecular mechanisms that make fullerenes. The first and oldest is the "bottom-up" theory, which says these carbon cages are built atom-by-atom, like the construction of a Lego model. The second, more recent, theory takes a "top-down" approach, suggesting that fullerenes form when much larger structures break into constituent parts.

After several years of debate with little more than computational models in support of how the top-down theory might work, researchers led by Harry Dorn, a professor at the research institute, have discovered the missing link: asymmetrical fullerenes that are formed from larger structures appear to settle into stable fullerenes.

The discovery appeared online Sept. 15 in the journal Nature Chemistry.

"Understanding the molecular mechanics of how fullerenes and their many variations are formed is not just a curiosity," said Dorn, who has been researching metallofullerenes - fullerenes with a few atoms of metal held within - for more than two decades. "It would give us insights into new, better ways to prepare them. Fullerenes and metallofullerenes are already involved in hundreds of biomedical studies. The ability to create large numbers of a wide variety of metallofullerenes would be a giant building block that would take the field to new heights."

The medicinal promise of metallofullerenes stems from the atoms of metal caged within them. Because the metal atoms are trapped in a cage of carbon, they do not react with the outside world, making their side-effect risks low in both number and intensity.

For example, one particular metallofullerene with gadolinium at its core has been shown to be up to 40 times better as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging scans for diagnostic imaging than options now commercially available. Current experiments are also directed at using metallofullerenes to carry therapeutic radioactive ions to target cancer tissue.

"A better understanding of the formation of fullerenes and metallofullerenes may allow the development of new contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging at commercial-level quantities," said Jianyuan Zhang, a graduate student in Dorn's laboratory and the first author of the paper. "These larger quantities will facilitate a next generation of contrast agents with multiple targets."

Dorn's new study hinges on the isolation and purification of approximately 100 micrograms — roughly the size of several specks of pepper — of a particular metallofullerene consisting of 84 carbon atoms with two additional carbon atoms and two yttrium atoms trapped inside.

When Dorn and his colleagues determined the metallofullerene's exact structure using nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and single crystal X-ray analysis, they made a startling discovery —the asymmetrical molecule could theoretically collapse to form nearly every known fullerene and metallofullerene.

All the process would require would be a few minor perturbations — the breaking of only a few molecular bonds — and the cage would become highly symmetrical and stable.

This insight, Dorn said, supports the theory that fullerenes are formed from graphene — a single sheet of carbon just one atom thick — when key molecular bonds begin to break down. And although the study focuses on fullerenes with yttrium trapped inside, it also shows that the carbon distribution looks similar for empty cages, suggesting regular fullerenes form the same way.

"Not only are the findings presented in Dr. Dorn's paper extremely interesting, but the study represents a real milestone in the field," said Takeshi Akasaka, a professor of chemistry at the University of Tsukuba in Japan and an authority in the field of metallofullerene research, who was not involved in the study. "The study presents physical evidence for a process of metallofullerene creation that most scientists in the field initially scoffed at."

Dorn said scientists have questioned the bottom-up theory of fullerene formation ever since it was discovered that fullerenes were formed from asteroids colliding with Earth and fullerenes were found in interstellar space.

"With this study, we hope to be that much closer to understanding their formation and creating entirely new classes of fullerenes and metallofullerenes that could be useful in medicine as well as in other fields that haven't even occurred to us yet," Dorn said.

"Dr. Dorn's insight into the fundamental process whereby fullerenes are formed is a major contribution to the field," said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. "Understanding the molecular steps in their formation is key to realizing fully the potential of this versatile and potentially potent family of chemicals in medicine. Dr. Dorn's contributions to understanding these molecules are paving the way for the formulation of targeted novel diagnostics, therapeutics, and the combination of both—theranostics. This approach will provide an important component for tomorrow's arsenal of precision medicine."

Dorn and Zhang's research collaborators include Faye Bowles, a graduate student researcher; Marilyn Olmstead, a professor of chemistry; and Alan Balch, a distinguished professor of chemistry; all from the University of California, Davis.

Also participating were Daniel Bearden, a research scientist with the Hollings Marine Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Tim Fuhrer, now an assistant professor of chemistry at Radford University.

Researchers from Virginia Tech who worked on the study include Richard Helm, an associate professor of biochemistry; W. Keith Ray, a senior research associate in biochemistry; Youqing Ye, a graduate student in chemistry; Caitlyn Dixon, an undergraduate student in chemistry; and Kim Harich, an analytical chemist senior in biochemistry.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Paula Byron

540-526-2027

Copyright © Virginia Tech

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

Laboratories

Cannibalistic materials feed on themselves to grow new nanostructures September 1st, 2018

A Novel Graphene Quantum Dot Structure Takes the Cake August 24th, 2018

Virginia Tech researchers develop novel process to 3D print one of the strongest materials on Earth August 23rd, 2018

Connecting the (Nano) Dots: NIST Says Big-Picture Thinking Can Advance Nanoparticle Manufacturing August 22nd, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms September 19th, 2018

Researchers managed to prevent the disappearing of quantum information September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Carbon nanodots do an ultrafine job with in vitro lung tissue: New experiments highlight the role of charge and size when it comes to carbon nanodots that mimic the effect of nanoscale pollution particles on the human lung. September 12th, 2018

Graphene nanotubes outperform ammonium salts and carbon black in PU applications September 11th, 2018

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co: Efficient and stable catalysts for water splitting September 10th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Nanomedicine

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

NUS researchers invent new test kit for quick, accurate and low-cost screening of diseases: Test results are denoted by a color change and could be further analyzed by a smartphone app, making it attractive as a point-of-care diagnostic device September 19th, 2018

Optical computing/Photonic computing

Halas wins American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Chemistry: Rice University nanophotonics pioneer honored for colloid research September 18th, 2018

Tiny camera lens may help link quantum computers to network September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Rice U. lab probes molecular limit of plasmonics: Optical effect detailed in organic molecules with fewer than 50 atoms September 5th, 2018

Discoveries

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

NUS researchers invent new test kit for quick, accurate and low-cost screening of diseases: Test results are denoted by a color change and could be further analyzed by a smartphone app, making it attractive as a point-of-care diagnostic device September 19th, 2018

Materials/Metamaterials

How a tetrahedral substance can be more symmetrical than a spherical atom: A new type of symmetry September 14th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Cannibalistic materials feed on themselves to grow new nanostructures September 1st, 2018

Environmentally friendly photoluminescent nanoparticles for more vivid display colors: Osaka University-led researchers created a new type of light-emitting nanoparticle that is made of ternary non-toxic semiconductors to help create displays and LED lighting with better colors t August 29th, 2018

Announcements

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

Energy

Leti Announces EU Project to Develop Powerful, Inexpensive Sensors with Photonic Integrated Circuits: REDFINCH Members Initially Targeting Applications for Gas Detection and Analysis For Refineries & Petrochemical Industry and Protein Analysis for Dairy Industry September 19th, 2018

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co: Efficient and stable catalysts for water splitting September 10th, 2018

September 5th, 2018

Rice U. lab probes molecular limit of plasmonics: Optical effect detailed in organic molecules with fewer than 50 atoms September 5th, 2018

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Halas wins American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Chemistry: Rice University nanophotonics pioneer honored for colloid research September 18th, 2018

Tiny camera lens may help link quantum computers to network September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Laser sintering optimized for printed electronics: New study sheds (laser) light on the best means of laying down thin-film circuitry September 13th, 2018

Research partnerships

Leti Announces EU Project to Develop Powerful, Inexpensive Sensors with Photonic Integrated Circuits: REDFINCH Members Initially Targeting Applications for Gas Detection and Analysis For Refineries & Petrochemical Industry and Protein Analysis for Dairy Industry September 19th, 2018

Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms September 19th, 2018

Leti & EFI Aim to Dramatically Improve Reliability & Speed of Low-Cost Electronic Devices for Autos: Project Will Extend Model Predictive Control Technique to Microcontrollers, Digital Signal Processors and Other Devices that Lack Powerful Computation Capabilities September 18th, 2018

Tiny camera lens may help link quantum computers to network September 14th, 2018

Solar/Photovoltaic

September 5th, 2018

NUST MISIS scientists present metamaterial for solar cells and nanooptics July 23rd, 2018

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project