Ancient Ink To Prevent Cancer Metastasis

For hundreds of years, Chinese calligraphers have used a plant-based ink to create beautiful messages and art. Now, a team of researchers from Fudan University (China)  reports in ACS Omega that this ink could noninvasively and effectively treat cancer cells that spread, or metastasize, to lymph nodes. Finding a simple and effective strategy to eliminate tumor metastatic lymph nodes is highly desired in clinical tumor treatment. Herein, we reported a Chinese traditional ink (Hu-ink)-based treatment for photothermal therapy (PTT) of tumor metastatic lymph nodes. By simple dilution, stable ink dispersion was obtained, which presents excellent photothermal effect because of its high absorption in near-infrared (NIR) region.

Meanwhile, as revealed by staining and photoacoustic imaging, Hu-ink could transfer to nearby lymph nodes after directly injected into the primary tumors. Under the guidance of dual-modality mapping, the metastatic sentinel lymph nodes could be subsequently eliminated by NIR irradiation.


The good biocompatibility of Hu-ink has also been verified by a series of experiments. Therefore, the Hu-ink-based treatment exhibits great potential for PTT of tumor metastatic lymph nodes in future clinical practice.


How To Make Solar Energy Conversion More Efficient

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense.  The solar cells – made often of silicon or cadmium telluride – rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total costSolar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.

A huge gain in this direction has now been made by a team of chemists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) that has found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficientThe researchers report in Nano Letters that by combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, they have succeeded in “upconvertingphotons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.


Solar-panels UCRChemists at the University of California, Riverside have found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient

The infrared region of the solar spectrum passes right through the photovoltaic materials that make up today’s solar cells,” explained Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry. The research was a collaborative effort between him and Ming Lee Tang, an assistant professor of chemistry. “This is energy lost, no matter how good your solar cell.  The hybrid material we have come up with first captures two infrared photons that would normally pass right through a solar cell without being converted to electricity, then adds their energies together to make one higher energy photon.  This upconverted photon is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that normally would be wasted.”


Smart Windows Tune Sunlight And Heat

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter. The material is a thin coating of nanocrystals embedded in glass that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window. Unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light, so windows can maximize both energy savings and occupant comfort in a wide range of climates.

nanocrystals of indium tin oxideNanocrystals of indium tin oxide (shown here in blue) embedded in a glassy matrix of niobium oxide (green) form a composite material that can switch between NIR-transmitting and NIR-blocking states with a small jolt of electricity. A synergistic interaction in the region where glassy matrix meets nanocrystal increases the potency of the electrochromic effect

In the US, we spend about a quarter of our total energy on lighting, heating and cooling our buildings,” says Delia Milliron, a chemist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry who led this research. “When used as a window coating, our new material can have a major impact on building energy efficiency.”


Self-Assembled Nanoparticle for chemotherapy

Excitement around the potential for targeted nanoparticles (NPs) that can be controlled by stimulus outside of the body for cancer therapy has been growing over the past few years. More specifically, there has been considerable attention around near-infrared NIR light as an ideal method to stimulate nanoparticles from outside the body. NIR is minimally absorbed by skin and tissue, has the ability to penetrate deep tissue in a noninvasive way and the energy from NIR light can be converted to heat by gold nanomaterials for effective thermal ablation of diseased tissue.

In new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), researchers describe the design and effectiveness of a first-of-its-kind, self assembled, multi-functional, NIR responsive gold nanorods that can deliver a chemotherapy drug specifically targeted to cancer cells and selectively release the drug in response to an external beam of light while creating heat for synergistic thermo-chemo mediated anti-tumor efficacy. The study is electronically published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.


Non-Invasive Treatment For Deep Cancer

PhotoDynamic therapy (PDT) as a non-invasive treatment of cancer is limited by the penetration depth of visible light needed for its activation. A Bioengineering team from the National University of Singapore – NUS – led by Associate Professor Zhang Yong has invented a novel method which will pave the way for PDT to treat deep-seated cancer as well. The researchers also revealed how they have been able to control gene expression – the release of certain proteins in our body – using their nanoparticles which could convert NIR (Near Infrared) light to UV light (visible light needed for effective activation).
NIR is a safe light as opposed to UV light, which could cause damage to cells. NIR can also penetrate deeper into tissues to target tumours.

Near Infrared Light -NIR-, besides being non-toxic, is able to penetrate deeper into our tissues. When NIR reaches the desired places in the body of the patient, the nanoparticles which we have invented, are able to convert the NIR back to UV light (upconversion) to effectively activate the genes in the way desired – by controlling the amount of proteins expressed each time, when this should take place, as well as how long it should take place” explains Prof Zhang.