Carbon and Silicon Nanomaterials for Medical Nanotechnology Applications
Wilson, Lon J.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation focuses on the development of sp2-carbon- and silicon-based nanomaterials for medical diagnostics and in vivo magnetic field-guided delivery applications. To realize these applications, especially for the development of new in vivo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) contrast agents (CAs), high solubility in aqueous media is required. Therefore, this work first details development of a new non-covalent method for the preparation of stable aqueous colloidal solution of surfactant-free sp2-carbon nanostructures, as well as a second rapid covalent functionalization procedure to produce highly-water-dispersible honey-comb carbon nanostructures (ca. 50 mg/mL). Next, highly-water-dispersible graphene nanoribbons and Gd3+ ions were together used to produce a high-performance MRI CA for T1- and T2- weighted imaging. In terms of its relaxivity (r1,2) values, this new CA material outperforms currently-available clinical CAs by up to 16 times for r1 and 21 times for r2. Finally, sub-micrometer discoidal magnetic nanoconstructs have been produced and studied for applications for in vivo magnetic-field-guided delivery into cancerous tumors. The nanoconstructs were produced by confining ultra-small superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIOs) within mesoporous silicon which produced T2-weighted MRI CA performance 2.5 times greater than for the free USPIOs themselves. Moreover, these nanoconstructs, under the influence of an external magnetic field, collectively cooperated via a new mechanism to amplify accumulation in melanoma tumors of mice. Overall, the results of this dissertation could aid in the rapid translation of these nanotechnologies into the clinic, while, hopefully, also serving as an inspiration for continued research into the field of Medical Nanotechnology.