ICN2 Publications

2021

  • Antibody cooperative adsorption onto AuNPs and its exploitation to force natural killer cells to kill HIV-infected T cells

    Astorga-Gamaza A., Vitali M., Borrajo M.L., Suárez-López R., Jaime C., Bastus N., Serra-Peinado C., Luque-Ballesteros L., Blanch-Lombarte O., Prado J.G., Lorente J., Pumarola F., Pellicer M., Falcó V., Genescà M., Puntes V., Buzon M.J. Nano Today; 36 (101056) 2021. 10.1016/j.nantod.2020.101056. IF: 16.907

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    HIV represents a persistent infection which negatively alters the immune system. New tools to reinvigorate different immune cell populations to impact HIV are needed. Herein, a novel nanotool for the specific enhancement of the natural killer (NK) immune response towards HIV-infected T-cells has been developed. Bispecific Au nanoparticles (BiAb-AuNPs), dually conjugated with IgG anti-HIVgp120 and IgG anti-human CD16 antibodies, were generated by a new controlled, linker-free and cooperative conjugation method promoting the ordered distribution and segregation of antibodies in domains. The cooperatively-adsorbed antibodies fully retained the capabilities to recognize their cognate antigen and were able to significantly enhance cell-to-cell contact between HIV-expressing cells and NK cells. As a consequence, the BiAb-AuNPs triggered a potent cytotoxic response against HIV-infected cells in blood and human tonsil explants. Remarkably, the BiAb-AuNPs were able to significantly reduce latent HIV infection after viral reactivation in a primary cell model of HIV latency. This novel molecularly-targeted strategy using a bispecific nanotool to enhance the immune system represents a new approximation with potential applications beyond HIV. © 2020 The Authors


  • Gold nanoparticles coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone and sea urchin extracellular molecules induce transient immune activation

    Alijagic A., Barbero F., Gaglio D., Napodano E., Benada O., Kofroňová O., Puntes V.F., Bastús N.G., Pinsino A. Journal of Hazardous Materials; 402 (123793) 2021. 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.123793. IF: 9.038

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    We report that the immunogenicity of colloidal gold nanoparticles coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP–AuNPs) in a model organism, the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, can function as a proxy for humans for in vitro immunological studies. To profile the immune recognition and interaction from exposure to PVP–AuNPs (1 and 10 μg mL−1), we applied an extensive nano-scale approach, including particle physicochemical characterisation involving immunology, cellular biology, and metabolomics. The interaction between PVP–AuNPs and soluble proteins of the sea urchin physiological coelomic fluid (blood equivalent) results in the formation of a protein “corona” surrounding the NPs from three major proteins that influence the hydrodynamic size and colloidal stability of the particle. At the lower concentration of PVP–AuNPs, the P. lividus phagocytes show a broad metabolic plasticity based on the biosynthesis of metabolites mediating inflammation and phagocytosis. At the higher concentration of PVP–AuNPs, phagocytes activate an immunological response involving Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling pathway at 24 hours of exposure. These results emphasise that exposure to PVP–AuNPs drives inflammatory signalling by the phagocytes and the resolution at both the low and high concentrations of the PVP–AuNPs and provides more details regarding the immunogenicity of these NPs. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Graphene quantum dots: From efficient preparation to safe renal excretion

    Hadad C., González-Domínguez J.M., Armelloni S., Mattinzoli D., Ikehata M., Istif A., Ostric A., Cellesi F., Alfieri C.M., Messa P., Ballesteros B., Da Ros T. Nano Research; 14 (3): 674 - 683. 2021. 10.1007/s12274-020-3096-y. IF: 8.183

    Electron Microscopy Unit

    Carbon nanomaterials offer excellent prospects as therapeutic agents, and among them, graphene quantum dots (GQDs) have gained considerable interest thanks to their aqueous solubility and intrinsic fluorescence, which enable their possible use in theranostic approaches, if their biocompatibility and favorable pharmacokinetic are confirmed. We prepared ultra-small GQDs using an alternative, reproducible, top-down synthesis starting from graphene oxide with a nearly 100% conversion. The materials were tested to assess their safety, demonstrating good biocompatibility and ability in passing the ultrafiltration barrier using an in vitro model. This leads to renal excretion without affecting the kidneys. Moreover, we studied the GQDs in vivo biodistribution confirming their efficient renal clearance, and we demonstrated that the internalization mechanism into podocytes is caveolae-mediated. Therefore, considering the reported characteristics, it appears possible to vehiculate compounds to kidneys by means of GQDs, overcoming problems related to lysosomal degradation. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]. © 2020, The Author(s).


  • Grating-Graphene Metamaterial as a Platform for Terahertz Nonlinear Photonics

    Deinert J.-C., Alcaraz Iranzo D., Pérez R., Jia X., Hafez H.A., Ilyakov I., Awari N., Chen M., Bawatna M., Ponomaryov A.N., Germanskiy S., Bonn M., Koppens F.H.L., Turchinovich D., Gensch M., Kovalev S., Tielrooij K.-J. ACS Nano; 2021. 10.1021/acsnano.0c08106. IF: 14.588

    Ultrafast Dynamics in Nanoscale Systems

    Nonlinear optics is an increasingly important field for scientific and technological applications, owing to its relevance and potential for optical and optoelectronic technologies. Currently, there is an active search for suitable nonlinear material systems with efficient conversion and a small material footprint. Ideally, the material system should allow for chip integration and room-temperature operation. Two-dimensional materials are highly interesting in this regard. Particularly promising is graphene, which has demonstrated an exceptionally large nonlinearity in the terahertz regime. Yet, the light-matter interaction length in two-dimensional materials is inherently minimal, thus limiting the overall nonlinear optical conversion efficiency. Here, we overcome this challenge using a metamaterial platform that combines graphene with a photonic grating structure providing field enhancement. We measure terahertz third-harmonic generation in this metamaterial and obtain an effective third-order nonlinear susceptibility with a magnitude as large as 3 × 10-8 m2/V2, or 21 esu, for a fundamental frequency of 0.7 THz. This nonlinearity is 50 times larger than what we obtain for graphene without grating. Such an enhancement corresponds to a third-harmonic signal with an intensity that is 3 orders of magnitude larger due to the grating. Moreover, we demonstrate a field conversion efficiency for the third harmonic of up to μ1% using a moderate field strength of μ30 kV/cm. Finally, we show that harmonics beyond the third are enhanced even more strongly, allowing us to observe signatures of up to the ninth harmonic. Grating-graphene metamaterials thus constitute an outstanding platform for commercially viable, CMOS-compatible, room-temperature, chip-integrated, THz nonlinear conversion applications. © 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • Heterogeneous catalysts with programmable topologies generated by reticulation of organocatalysts into metal-organic frameworks: The case of squaramide

    Broto-Ribas A., Vignatti C., Jimenez-Almarza A., Luis-Barrera J., Dolatkhah Z., Gándara F., Imaz I., Mas-Ballesté R., Alemán J., Maspoch D. Nano Research; 14 (2): 458 - 465. 2021. 10.1007/s12274-020-2779-8. IF: 8.183

    Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials

    A well-established strategy to synthesize heterogeneous, metal-organic framework (MOF) catalysts that exhibit nanoconfinement effects, and specific pores with highly-localized catalytic sites, is to use organic linkers containing organocatalytic centers. Here, we report that by combining this linker approach with reticular chemistry, and exploiting three-dimensioanl (3D) MOF-structural data from the Cambridge Structural Database, we have designed four heterogeneous MOF-based catalysts for standard organic transformations. These programmable MOFs are isoreticular versions of pcu IRMOF-16, fcu UiO-68 and pillared-pcu SNU-8X, the three most common topologies of MOFs built from the organic linker p,p’-terphenyldicarboxylic acid (tpdc). To synthesize the four squaramide-based MOFs, we designed and synthesized a linker, 4,4’-((3,4‐dioxocyclobut‐1‐ene‐1,2‐diyl)bis(azanedyil))dibenzoic acid (Sq_tpdc), which is identical in directionality and length to tpdc but which contains organocatalytic squaramide centers. Squaramides were chosen because their immobilization into a framework enhances its reactivity and stability while avoiding any self-quenching phenomena. Therefore, the four MOFs share the same organocatalytic squaramide moiety, but confine it within distinct pore environments. We then evaluated these MOFs as heterogeneous H-bonding catalysts in organic transformations: a Friedel-Crafts alkylation and an epoxide ring-opening. Some of them exhibited good performance in both reactions but all showed distinct catalytic profiles that reflect their structural differences. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]. © 2020, Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Improved Aliivibrio fischeri based-toxicity assay: Graphene-oxide as a sensitivity booster with a mobile-phone application

    Bergua J.F., Álvarez-Diduk R., Hu L., Hassan A.H.A., Merkoçi A. Journal of Hazardous Materials; 406 (124434) 2021. 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124434. IF: 9.038

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    Recently, many bioluminescence-based applications have arisen in several fields, such as biosensing, bioimaging, molecular biology, and human health diagnosis. Among all bioluminescent organisms, Aliivibrio fischeri (A. fischeri) is a bioluminescent bacterium used to carry out water toxicity assays since the late 1970s. Since then, several commercial A. fischeri-based products have been launched to the market, as these bacteria are considered as a gold standard for water toxicity assessment worldwide. However, the aforementioned commercial products rely on expensive equipment, requiring several reagents and working steps, as well as high-trained personnel to perform the assays and analyze the output data. For these reasons, in this work, we have developed for the first time a mobile-phone-based sensing platform for water toxicity assessment in just 5 min using two widespread pesticides as model analytes. To accomplish this, we have established new methodologies to enhance the bioluminescent signal of A. fischeri based on the bacterial culture in a solid media and/or using graphene oxide. Finally, we have addressed the biocompatibility of graphene oxide to A. fischeri, boosting the sensitivity of the toxicity assays and the bacterial growth of the lyophilized bacterial cultures for more user-friendly storage. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • In situ XPS analysis of the electronic structure of silicon and titanium thin films exposed to low-pressure inductively-coupled RF plasma

    Fraxedas J., Schütte M., Sauthier G., Tallarida M., Ferrer S., Carlino V., Pellegrin E. Applied Surface Science; 542 (148684) 2021. 10.1016/j.apsusc.2020.148684. IF: 6.182

    Force Probe Microscopy and Surface Nanoengineering

    Carbon contamination of synchrotron and free-electron lasers beamline optics continues to be a major nuisance due to the interaction of the intense photon beams with the surfaces of the optical elements in the presence of residual gases even in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions. Among the available in situ cleaning strategies, low-pressure radio frequency (RF) plasma treatment has emerged as a useful and relatively simple approach to remove such carbon contamination. However, the irreversible damage that the plasma may induce in such critical surfaces has to be carefully characterized before its general application. In this study, we focus on reducing the amount of carbon from UHV chamber inside surfaces via silicon and titanium coatings using a low-pressure inductively-coupled downstream plasma source and we characterize the surface alterations by in situ X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS). The in situ mirror cleaning is simulated by means of silicon wafers. We observe upward band bending, which translates into lower binding energies of the photoemission lines, that we attribute to the generation of vacancies and trapped charges in the oxide layers. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Nanotools for Sepsis Diagnosis and Treatment

    Papafilippou L., Claxton A., Dark P., Kostarelos K., Hadjidemetriou M. Advanced Healthcare Materials; 10 (1, 2001378) 2021. 10.1002/adhm.202001378. IF: 7.367

    Nanomedicine

    Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with high mortality rates and a pathological complexity hindering early and accurate diagnosis. Today, laboratory culture tests are the epitome of pathogen recognition in sepsis. However, their consistency remains an issue of controversy with false negative results often observed. Clinically used blood markers, C reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) are indicators of an acute-phase response and thus lack specificity, offering limited diagnostic efficacy. In addition to poor diagnosis, inefficient drug delivery and the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms constitute significant barriers in antibiotic stewardship and impede effective therapy. These challenges have prompted the exploration for alternative strategies that pursue accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Nanomaterials are examined for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in sepsis. The nanoparticle (NP)-enabled capture of sepsis causative agents and/or sepsis biomarkers in biofluids can revolutionize sepsis diagnosis. From the therapeutic point of view, currently existing nanoscale drug delivery systems have proven to be excellent allies in targeted therapy, while many other nanotherapeutic applications are envisioned. Herein, the most relevant applications of nanomedicine for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of sepsis is reviewed, providing a critical assessment of their potentiality for clinical translation. © 2020 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Non-linear nanoscale piezoresponse of single ZnO nanowires affected by piezotronic effect

    Lozano H., Catalán G., Esteve J., Domingo N., Murillo G. Nanotechnology; 32 (2, 025202) 2021. 10.1088/1361-6528/abb972. IF: 3.551

    Oxide Nanophysics

    Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) as semiconductor piezoelectric nanostructures have emerged as material of interest for applications in energy harvesting, photonics, sensing, biomedical science, actuators or spintronics. The expression for the piezoelectric properties in semiconductor materials is concealed by the screening effect of the available carriers and the piezotronic effect, leading to complex nanoscale piezoresponse signals. Here, we have developed a metal-semiconductor-metal model to simulate the piezoresponse of single ZnO NWs, demonstrating that the apparent non-linearity in the piezoelectric coefficient arises from the asymmetry created by the forward and reversed biased Schottky barriers at the semiconductor-metal junctions. By directly measuring the experimental I-V characteristics of ZnO NWs with conductive atomic force microscope together with the piezoelectric vertical coefficient by piezoresponse force microscopy, and comparing them with the numerical calculations for our model, effective piezoelectric coefficients in the range d 33eff ∼ 8.6 pm V-1-12.3 pm V-1 have been extracted for ZnO NWs. We have further demonstrated via simulations the dependence between the effective piezoelectric coefficient d 33eff and the geometry and physical dimensions of the NW (radius to length ratio), revealing that the higher d 33eff is obtained for thin and long NWs due to the tensor nature proportionality between electric fields and deformation in NW geometries. Moreover, the non-linearity of the piezoresponse also leads to multiharmonic electromechanical response observed at the second and higher harmonics that indeed is not restricted to piezoelectric semiconductor materials but can be generalized to any type of asymmetric voltage drops on a piezoelectric structure as well as leaky wide band-gap semiconductor ferroelectrics. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Probing the meta-stability of oxide core/shell nanoparticle systems at atomic resolution

    Roldan M.A., Mayence A., López-Ortega A., Ishikawa R., Salafranca J., Estrader M., Salazar-Alvarez G., Dolors Baró M., Nogués J., Pennycook S.J., Varela M. Chemical Engineering Journal; 405 (126820) 2021. 10.1016/j.cej.2020.126820. IF: 10.652

    Magnetic Nanostructures

    Hybrid nanoparticles allow exploiting the interplay of confinement, proximity between different materials and interfacial effects. However, to harness their properties an in-depth understanding of their (meta)stability and interfacial characteristics is crucial. This is especially the case of nanosystems based on functional oxides working under reducing conditions, which may severely impact their properties. In this work, the in-situ electron-induced selective reduction of Mn3O4 to MnO is studied in magnetic Fe3O4/Mn3O4 and Mn3O4/Fe3O4 core/shell nanoparticles by means of high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy combined with electron energy-loss spectroscopy. Such in-situ transformation allows mimicking the actual processes in operando environments. A multi-stage image analysis using geometric phase analysis combined with particle image velocity enables direct monitoring of the relationship between structure, chemical composition and strain relaxation during the Mn3O4 reduction. In the case of Fe3O4/Mn3O4 core/shell the transformation occurs smoothly without the formation of defects. However, for the inverse Mn3O4/Fe3O4 core/shell configuration the electron beam-induced transformation occurs in different stages that include redox reactions and void formation followed by strain field relaxation via formation of defects. This study highlights the relevance of understanding the local dynamics responsible for changes in the particle composition in order to control stability and, ultimately, macroscopic functionality. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Sheet-on-sheet like calcium ferrite and graphene nanoplatelets nanocomposite: A multifunctional nanocomposite for high-performance supercapacitor and visible light driven photocatalysis

    Israr M., Iqbal J., Arshad A., Gómez-Romero P. Journal of Solid State Chemistry; 293 (121646) 2021. 10.1016/j.jssc.2020.121646. IF: 2.726

    Novel Energy-Oriented Materials

    Calcium ferrite-graphene nanoplatelets nanocomposites with sheet-on-sheet like morphology are fabricated and investigated for their physicochemical characteristics, electrochemical energy storage capacity and photocatalysis. Interestingly, the (CF)1-x (GNPs)x nanocomposite-based electrode has shown maximum specific capacitance up to 422 ​Fg-1 at 0.25 Ag-1 with excellent cycling stability, 2.6 times higher than that of neat CF nanosheets. Furthermore, the synergistic contribution from photocatalytic and photo-Fenton reactions enables (CF)1-x (GNPs)x nanocomposites to offer superior photocatalytic activity (99.4% dye removal in 90 ​min). The inclusion of GNPs significantly enhances the charge carriers separation and transportation. The excellent electrochemical efficiency of (CF)1-x (GNPs)x could be attributed to the 2D interfacial interactions that provide a better charge transport at electrode/electrolyte interface. These interactions are also responsible for creating effective charge transport pathways and efficient e−/h+ separation leading to rapid dye-degradation, which make the material potential for remediation of water pollution and energy storage systems. © 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Thermal transport in amorphous graphene with varying structural quality

    Antidormi A., Colombo L., Roche S. 2D Materials; 8 (1, 015028) 2021. 10.1088/2053-1583/abc7f8. IF: 7.140

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    The synthesis of wafer-scale two-dimensional amorphous carbon monolayers has been recently demonstrated. This material presents useful properties when integrated as coating of metals, semiconductors or magnetic materials, such as enabling efficient atomic layer deposition and hence fostering the development of ultracompact technologies. Here we propose a characterization of how the structural degree of amorphousness of such carbon membranes could be controlled by the crystal growth temperature. We also identify how energy is dissipated in this material by a systematic analysis of emerging vibrational modes whose localization increases with the loss of spatial symmetries, resulting in a tunable thermal conductivity varying by more than two orders of magnitude. Our simulations provide some recipe to design most suitable 'amorphous graphene' based on the target applications such as ultrathin heat spreaders, energy harvesters or insulating thermal barriers. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Ultrasound-assisted exfoliation of a layered 2D coordination polymer with HER electrocatalytic activity

    Contreras-Pereda N., Moghzi F., Baselga J., Zhong H., Janczak J., Soleimannejad J., Dong R., Ruiz-Molina D. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry; 70 (105292) 2021. 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2020.105292. IF: 6.513

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    Large blue rectangular crystals of the 2D layered coordination polymer 1 have been obtained. The interest for this complex is two-fold. First, complex 1 is made of 2D layers packing along the (0–11) direction favored by the presence of lattice and coordinated water molecules. And second, nanostructures that could be derived by delamination are potentially suitable for catalytic purposes. Therefore it represents an excellent example to study the role of interlayer solvent molecules on the ultrasound-assisted delamination of functionally-active 2D metal-organic frameworks in water, a field of growing interest. With this aim, ultrasound-assisted delamination of the crystals was optimized with time, leading to stable nanosheet colloidal water suspensions with very homogeneous dimensions. Alternative bottom-up synthesis of related nanocrystals under ultrasound sonication yielded similar shaped crystals with much higher size dispersions. Finally, experimental results evidence that the nanostructures have higher catalytic activities in comparison to their bulk counterparts, due to larger metallic center exposition. These outcomes confirm that the combination of liquid phase exfoliation and a suitable synthetic design of 2D coordination polymers represents a very fruitful approach for the synthesis of functional nanosheets with an enhancement of catalytic active sites, and in general, with boosted functional properties. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.