Controlling the shape of nanostructures is one of the challenging issues presently faced by synthetic chemists and materials engineers. Various shapes of nanomaterials, such as sphere-, rod-, wire-, triangle-, cube-, and tube-outlines have been synthesized by various approaches. However, to produce nanostructures with high monodispersity is still one of the major issues to be solved. Most work in this area focused on inorganic or synthetically organic materials. Using pure biomolecules to produce nano- or micro-structures, without the assistance of inorganic materials, is rare.
Biocompatible nanospheres have been and remain of intense interest for biosensor, drug delivery, and biomedical contrast imaging. A new research report coming out of China now shows that highly monodispersed nanospheres of cystine (a sulfur-containing amino acid) aggregate were successfully produced by a quite simple method without the assistance of any other inorganic materials. This work could be of great significance in the production of nanomaterials, biosensors, and drug delivery.
Professor Zhanfang Ma from the Chemistry Department at Northeast Normal University in Chanchun, PR China, explains his group's recent findings to Nanowerk; "Amino acid molecules are one of the most important candidates to fabricate nanomaterials due to their stability, cost-saving, nontoxicity, and biocompatibility. Herein, we prepared multiple shapes of nano- and micro-structured cystine aggregates only by adjusting the concentration and pH value of the L-Cysteine solution under ultrasonic irradiation."
Importantly, as Ma points out, a large amount of highly monodispersed nanospheres of cystine aggregates 225 nm in diameter without any other shapes were easily obtained.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time highly monodispersed nanospheres have been prepared using a common amino acid with small molecular weight" he says. "The reported method will promote new possibilities for future applications in biosensor, drug delivery, and medicine."
The new findings were reported in a paper, titled "A facile method to produce highly monodispersed nanospheres of cystine aggregates", published in the September 28, 2006 online edition of Nanotechnology.
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By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk LLC