Dripping Faucets Inspire New Way of Creating Structured Particles

July 18, 2012 01:00 PM EST By: Jennifer Rocha

Researchers find new method for making spherical particles, from nanoscale to pinhead-sized — including complex beach-ball-like shapes.

Story content courtesy of MIT News Office, US

Researchers at MIT and the University of Central Florida (UCF) have developed a versatile new fabrication technique for making large quantities of uniform spheres from a wide variety of materials. The particles could find uses in everything from biomedical research and drug delivery to electronics and materials processing.

Yoel Fink, professor of materials science and director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, explains that the new method can also produce multimaterial spheres consisting of different layers or segments. Even more complex structures are possible, he says, offering unprecedented control over particle architecture and composition.

The most likely short-term uses of the new process would be for biomedical applications, says Ayman Abouraddy, a former postdoc in Fink’s lab who is now an assistant professor at UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics. “Typical applications of nanoparticles today are for controlled drug delivery,” he says. But with this new process, two or more different drugs — even ones that are ordinarily incompatible — could be combined inside individual particles, and released only once they’ve reached their intended destination in the body.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office through MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.


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