J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040201-040201-1. doi:10.1115/1.4030870.

This special section of ASME Journal of Nanotechnology in Engineering and Medicine focuses on reporting state-of-the-art nanoscale materials, devices, and systems for advanced biosensing, biomanipulation, and biofabrication. Such nanoscale materials, devices, and systems can be organic, inorganic, and hybrid, and their applications for advanced biosensing, biomanipulation, and biofabrication have generated significant impact for important biology and biomedical applications. Nanotechnology has seen rapid progress in recent years, with advanced capabilities to generate and manipulate precisely engineered nanoscale organic and inorganic materials and their assemblies pointing toward the emergence of disruptive functionalities for diverse biological and biomedical applications. Furthermore, nanofabricated devices and systems such as nanofluidics, nanoelectromechanical systems, and nanophotonic structures with critical dimensions comparable to the molecular scale open up new possibilities for direct observation, manipulation, and analysis of biomolecules, thus providing a novel basis for ultrasensitive and high-resolution sensors and diagnostic systems. Nanoscale surface patterning tools for precisely controlling biomolecule- and cell-surface interactions and nanotools such as atomic force microscopy and optical and magnetic tweezers are also extremely powerful for controlling cell fate and function and studying molecular and cellular biomechanics.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers

J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040901-040901-10. doi:10.1115/1.4030420.

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) shed from the primary tumor mass and circulating in the bloodstream of patients are believed to be vital to understand of cancer metastasis and progression. Capture and release of CTCs for further enumeration and molecular characterization holds the key for early cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy evaluation. However, detection of CTCs is challenging due to their rarity, heterogeneity and the increasing demand of viable CTCs for downstream biological analysis. Nanotopographic biomaterial-based microfluidic systems are emerging as promising tools for CTC capture with improved capture efficiency, purity, throughput and retrieval of viable CTCs. This review offers a brief overview of the recent advances in this field, including CTC detection technologies based on nanotopographic biomaterials and relevant nanofabrication methods. Additionally, the possible intracellular mechanisms of the intrinsic nanotopography sensitive responses that lead to the enhanced CTC capture are explored.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040902-040902-6. doi:10.1115/1.4029936.

Micropipette aspiration is arguably the most classical technique in mechanical measurements and manipulations of single cells. Despite its simplicity, micropipette aspiration has been applied to a variety of experimental systems that span different length scales to study cell mechanics, nanoscale molecular mechanisms in single cells, bleb growth, and nucleus dynamics, to name a few. Enabled by micro/nanotechnology, several novel microfluidic devices have been developed recently with better accuracy, sensitivity, and throughput. Further technical advancements of microfluidics-based micropipette aspiration would have broad applications in both fundamental cell mechanics studies and for disease diagnostics.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040903-040903-9. doi:10.1115/1.4030615.

Single-crystalline nanoporous gallium nitride (GaN) thin films were fabricated with the pore size readily tunable in 20–100 nm. Uniform adhesion and spreading of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) seeded on these thin films peak on the surface with pore size of 30 nm. Substantial cell elongation emerges as pore size increases to ∼80 nm. The osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs occurs preferentially on the films with 30 nm sized nanopores, which is correlated with the optimum condition for cell spreading, which suggests that adhesion, spreading, and stem cell differentiation are interlinked and might be coregulated by nanotopography.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040904-040904-7. doi:10.1115/1.4029331.

The effect of nanoparticles on subzero biotransport phenomena of living cells is very rare in the literature, although the information is of great importance for the application of nanotechnology in the field of cryobiology. In this study, subzero water transport phenomena in freezing HeLa cells in 1 × phosphate buffered saline (PBS) containing 0%, 0.05%, and 0.1% (w/w) hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles with and without pre-incubation at 37 °C was quantitatively investigated. The results reveal that the presence of HA nanoparticles slightly facilitates the subzero water transport of HeLa cells.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040905-040905-11. doi:10.1115/1.4030899.

The following work describes the development of a novel noninvasive transmucosal drug delivery system, the chitosan sponge matrix (CSM). It is composed of cationic chitosan (CS) nanoparticles (NPs) that encapsulate cisplatin (CDDP) embedded within a polymeric mucoadhesive CS matrix. CSM is designed to swell up when exposed to moisture, facilitating release of the NPs via diffusion across the matrix. CSM is intended to be administered topically and locally to mucosal tissues, with its initial indication being oral cancer (OC). Currently, intravenous (IV) administered CDDP is the gold standard chemotherapeutic agent used in the treatment of OC. However, its clinical use has been limited by its renal and hemotoxicity profile. We aim to locally administer CDDP via encapsulation in CS NPs and deliver them directly to the oral cavity with CSM. It is hypothesized that such a delivery device will greatly reduce any systemic toxicity and increase antitumor efficacy. This paper describes the methods for developing CSM and maintaining the integrity of CDDP NPs embedded in the CSM.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):040906-040906-6. doi:10.1115/1.4030769.

One of the greatest challenges in surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensing is to detect biochemicals directly from suspension with ultrasensitivity. In this work, we employed strategically designed longitudinal nanocapsule structures with uniformly surface distributed Ag nanoparticles (Ag NPs) to dually focus and enhance SERS sensitivity of biochemicals in suspension assisted with electric fields. By tuning the reaction conditions, Ag NPs were synthesized and uniformly grown with optimized sizes and junctions on the surface of nanocapsules for well reproducible detection. The Ag NPs can further concentrate molecules from suspension due to induced electrokinetic effects in electric fields. As a result, the signals of Nile blue molecules can be enhanced by 34.4±3.1% at optimal alternating current (AC) frequencies and voltages compared to that without electric fields. This work demonstrates the dual roles of a new type of plasmonic NPs for molecule concentration and detection, which could inspire new Raman sensing devices for applications in microfluidics.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):041001-041001-7. doi:10.1115/1.4028733.

Limitations in energy crisis and environment protection promote the development of engine lubricants. By friction machine and AVL diesel engine bench, the present investigation studies the tribological properties and dynamic performance of diesel engine with lubricants of commercial quality dispersed with different mass concentrations of nanodiamond particles. Reverse dragging process tests and mapping characteristics tests were brought in the bench test. Additionally, investigations were conducted using viscometer, thermal conductivity meter, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscope (TEM) to interpret the possible influence mechanisms of tribology and thermal conduction with nanodiamond particles. The friction machine experimental results show that lubricants dispersed with nanodiamond particles exhibit good friction-reduction and antiwear properties. The engine bench tests indicate that it has a desirable effect on engine performance, decreasing the mechanical loss while increasing fuel economy.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):041002-041002-6. doi:10.1115/1.4029855.

Two different preparations of biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), both (MnFe2O4 and Mn0.91Zn0.09Fe2O4) coated with methoxy polyethylene glycol aldehyde (m-PEG-CHO) were prepared through coprecipitation method. The prepared powder was reanalyzed for material structure with an X-ray diffractometer (XRD) and for particle size using a transition electron microscope (TEM). Magnetic saturation (MS) and coercivity (HC) of the formed particles were examined by a vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). Surface structure of the samples was characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Biocompatible ferrofluids were intravenously injected into four rabbits. Then the magnetic resonance (MR) images of brain were obtained by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experiments before and after intravenous injection of ferrofluids. The MNPs demonstrate super paramagnetic behavior with a spinel structure measuring 30–40 nm in size. Doping of these magnetite nanoparticles with zinc resulted in decreases in crystallite size from 24.23 nm to 21.15 nm, the lattice parameter from 8.45 Å to 8.43 Å and the coercivity from 41.20 Oe to 13.07 Oe. On the other hand, saturation magnetization increased from 50.12 emu/g to 57.36 emu/g following zinc doping. Image exposure analysis revealed that the reduction of MR signal intensity for zinc-doped magnetite nanoparticles was more than nondoped nanoparticles (shorter T2 relaxation time) thereby making the images darker.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med. 2014;5(4):044501-044501-6. doi:10.1115/1.4030018.

The effect of the temperature on the electrical resistivity of polymer nanocomposites with carbon nanotube (CNT) and graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) fillers was investigated. A three-dimensional (3D) continuum Monte Carlo (MC) model was developed to first form percolation networks. A 3D resistor network was subsequently created to evaluate the nanocomposite electrical properties. The effect of temperature on the electrical resistivity of nanocomposites was thus investigated. Other aspects such as polymer tunneling and filler resistivities were considered as well. The presented comprehensive modeling approach is aimed at providing a better understanding of the electrical resistivity behavior of polymer nanocomposites in conjunction with experimental works.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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