Staff directory Kostas Kostarelos

Kostas Kostarelos

Senior Group Leader
kostas.kostarelos(ELIMINAR)@icn2.cat
Nanomedicine

Publications

2020

  • Production and processing of graphene and related materials

    Backes C., Abdelkader A.M., Alonso C., Andrieux-Ledier A., Arenal R., Azpeitia J., Balakrishnan N., Banszerus L., Barjon J., Bartali R., Bellani S., Berger C., Berger R., Ortega M.M.B., Bernard C., Beton P.H., Beyer A., Bianco A., Bøggild P., Bonaccorso F., Barin G.B., Botas C., Bueno R.A., Carriazo D., Castellanos-Gomez A., Christian M., Ciesielski A., Ciuk T., Cole M.T., Coleman J., Coletti C., Crema L., Cun H., Dasler D., De Fazio D., Díez N., Drieschner S., Duesberg G.S., Fasel R., Feng X., Fina A., Forti S., Galiotis C., Garberoglio G., García J.M., Garrido J.A., Gibertini M., Gölzhäuser A., Gómez J., Greber T., Hauke F., Hemmi A., Hernandez-Rodriguez I., Hirsch A., Hodge S.A., Huttel Y., Jepsen P.U., Jimenez I., Kaiser U., Kaplas T., Kim H., Kis A., Papagelis K., Kostarelos K., Krajewska A., Lee K., Li C., Lipsanen H., Liscio A., Lohe M.R., Loiseau A., Lombardi L., López M.F., Martin O., Martín C., Martínez L., Martin-Gago J.A., Martínez J.I., Marzari N., Mayoral A., McManus J., Melucci M., Méndez J., Merino C., Merino P., Meyer A.P., Miniussi E., Miseikis V., Mishra N., Morandi V., Munuera C., Muñoz R., Nolan H., Ortolani L., Ott A.K., Palacio I., Palermo V., Parthenios J., Paste 2D Materials; 7 (2, 022001) 2020. 10.1088/2053-1583/ab1e0a. IF: 7.343

    We present an overview of the main techniques for production and processing of graphene and related materials (GRMs), as well as the key characterization procedures. We adopt a 'hands-on' approach, providing practical details and procedures as derived from literature as well as from the authors' experience, in order to enable the reader to reproduce the results. Section I is devoted to 'bottom up' approaches, whereby individual constituents are pieced together into more complex structures. We consider graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) produced either by solution processing or by on-surface synthesis in ultra high vacuum (UHV), as well carbon nanomembranes (CNM). Production of a variety of GNRs with tailored band gaps and edge shapes is now possible. CNMs can be tuned in terms of porosity, crystallinity and electronic behaviour. Section II covers 'top down' techniques. These rely on breaking down of a layered precursor, in the graphene case usually natural crystals like graphite or artificially synthesized materials, such as highly oriented pyrolythic graphite, monolayers or few layers (FL) flakes. The main focus of this section is on various exfoliation techniques in a liquid media, either intercalation or liquid phase exfoliation (LPE). The choice of precursor, exfoliation method, medium as well as the control of parameters such as time or temperature are crucial. A definite choice of parameters and conditions yields a particular material with specific properties that makes it more suitable for a targeted application. We cover protocols for the graphitic precursors to graphene oxide (GO). This is an important material for a range of applications in biomedicine, energy storage, nanocomposites, etc. Hummers' and modified Hummers' methods are used to make GO that subsequently can be reduced to obtain reduced graphene oxide (RGO) with a variety of strategies. GO flakes are also employed to prepare three-dimensional (3d) low density structures, such as sponges, foams, hydro- or aerogels. The assembly of flakes into 3d structures can provide improved mechanical properties. Aerogels with a highly open structure, with interconnected hierarchical pores, can enhance the accessibility to the whole surface area, as relevant for a number of applications, such as energy storage. The main recipes to yield graphite intercalation compounds (GICs) are also discussed. GICs are suitable precursors for covalent functionalization of graphene, but can also be used for the synthesis of uncharged graphene in solution. Degradation of the molecules intercalated in GICs can be triggered by high temperature treatment or microwave irradiation, creating a gas pressure surge in graphite and exfoliation. Electrochemical exfoliation by applying a voltage in an electrolyte to a graphite electrode can be tuned by varying precursors, electrolytes and potential. Graphite electrodes can be either negatively or positively intercalated to obtain GICs that are subsequently exfoliated. We also discuss the materials that can be amenable to exfoliation, by employing a theoretical data-mining approach. The exfoliation of LMs usually results in a heterogeneous dispersion of flakes with different lateral size and thickness. This is a critical bottleneck for applications, and hinders the full exploitation of GRMs produced by solution processing. The establishment of procedures to control the morphological properties of exfoliated GRMs, which also need to be industrially scalable, is one of the key needs. Section III deals with the processing of flakes. (Ultra)centrifugation techniques have thus far been the most investigated to sort GRMs following ultrasonication, shear mixing, ball milling, microfluidization, and wet-jet milling. It allows sorting by size and thickness. Inks formulated from GRM dispersions can be printed using a number of processes, from inkjet to screen printing. Each technique has specific rheological requirements, as well as geometrical constraints. The solvent choice is critical, not only for the GRM stability, but also in terms of optimizing printing on different substrates, such as glass, Si, plastic, paper, etc, all with different surface energies. Chemical modifications of such substrates is also a key step. Sections IV-VII are devoted to the growth of GRMs on various substrates and their processing after growth to place them on the surface of choice for specific applications. The substrate for graphene growth is a key determinant of the nature and quality of the resultant film. The lattice mismatch between graphene and substrate influences the resulting crystallinity. Growth on insulators, such as SiO2, typically results in films with small crystallites, whereas growth on the close-packed surfaces of metals yields highly crystalline films. Section IV outlines the growth of graphene on SiC substrates. This satisfies the requirements for electronic applications, with well-defined graphene-substrate interface, low trapped impurities and no need for transfer. It also allows graphene structures and devices to be measured directly on the growth substrate. The flatness of the substrate results in graphene with minimal strain and ripples on large areas, allowing spectroscopies and surface science to be performed. We also discuss the surface engineering by intercalation of the resulting graphene, its integration with Si-wafers and the production of nanostructures with the desired shape, with no need for patterning. Section V deals with chemical vapour deposition (CVD) onto various transition metals and on insulators. Growth on Ni results in graphitized polycrystalline films. While the thickness of these films can be optimized by controlling the deposition parameters, such as the type of hydrocarbon precursor and temperature, it is difficult to attain single layer graphene (SLG) across large areas, owing to the simultaneous nucleation/growth and solution/precipitation mechanisms. The differing characteristics of polycrystalline Ni films facilitate the growth of graphitic layers at different rates, resulting in regions with differing numbers of graphitic layers. High-quality films can be grown on Cu. Cu is available in a variety of shapes and forms, such as foils, bulks, foams, thin films on other materials and powders, making it attractive for industrial production of large area graphene films. The push to use CVD graphene in applications has also triggered a research line for the direct growth on insulators. The quality of the resulting films is lower than possible to date on metals, but enough, in terms of transmittance and resistivity, for many applications as described in section V. Transfer technologies are the focus of section VI. CVD synthesis of graphene on metals and bottom up molecular approaches require SLG to be transferred to the final target substrates. To have technological impact, the advances in production of high-quality large-area CVD graphene must be commensurate with those on transfer and placement on the final substrates. This is a prerequisite for most applications, such as touch panels, anticorrosion coatings, transparent electrodes and gas sensors etc. New strategies have improved the transferred graphene quality, making CVD graphene a feasible option for CMOS foundries. Methods based on complete etching of the metal substrate in suitable etchants, typically iron chloride, ammonium persulfate, or hydrogen chloride although reliable, are time- and resourceconsuming, with damage to graphene and production of metal and etchant residues. Electrochemical delamination in a low-concentration aqueous solution is an alternative. In this case metallic substrates can be reused. Dry transfer is less detrimental for the SLG quality, enabling a deterministic transfer. There is a large range of layered materials (LMs) beyond graphite. Only few of them have been already exfoliated and fully characterized. Section VII deals with the growth of some of these materials. Amongst them, h-BN, transition metal tri- and di-chalcogenides are of paramount importance. The growth of h-BN is at present considered essential for the development of graphene in (opto) electronic applications, as h-BN is ideal as capping layer or substrate. The interesting optical and electronic properties of TMDs also require the development of scalable methods for their production. Large scale growth using chemical/physical vapour deposition or thermal assisted conversion has been thus far limited to a small set, such as h-BN or some TMDs. Heterostructures could also be directly grown. © 2020 The Author(s).


  • Protein corona fingerprinting to differentiate sepsis from non-infectious systemic inflammation

    Papafilippou L., Claxton A., Dark P., Kostarelos K., Hadjidemetriou M. Nanoscale; 12 (18): 10240 - 10253. 2020. 10.1039/d0nr02788j. IF: 6.970

    Rapid and accurate diagnosis of sepsis remains clinically challenging. The lack of specific biomarkers that can differentiate sepsis from non-infectious systemic inflammatory diseases often leads to excessive antibiotic treatment. Novel diagnostic tests are urgently needed to rapidly and accurately diagnose sepsis and enable effective treatment. Despite investment in cutting-edge technologies available today, the discovery of disease-specific biomarkers in blood remains extremely difficult. The highly dynamic environment of plasma restricts access to vital diagnostic information that can be obtained by proteomic analysis. Here, we employed clinically used lipid-based nanoparticles (AmBisome®) as an enrichment platform to analyze the human plasma proteome in the setting of sepsis. We exploited the spontaneous interaction of plasma proteins with nanoparticles (NPs) once in contact, called the 'protein corona', to discover previously unknown disease-specific biomarkers for sepsis diagnosis. Plasma samples obtained from non-infectious acute systemic inflammation controls and sepsis patients were incubated ex vivo with AmBisome® liposomes, and the resultant protein coronas were thoroughly characterised and compared by mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics. Our results demonstrate that the proposed nanoparticle enrichment technology enabled the discovery of 67 potential biomarker proteins that could reproducibly differentiate non-infectious acute systemic inflammation from sepsis. This study provides proof-of-concept evidence that nanoscale-based 'omics' enrichment technologies have the potential to substantially improve plasma proteomics analysis and to uncover novel biomarkers in a challenging clinical setting.


2019

  • Non-cytotoxic carbon nanocapsules synthesized via one-pot filling and end-closing of multi-walled carbon nanotubes

    Martincic M., Vranic S., Pach E., Sandoval S., Ballesteros B., Kostarelos K., Tobias G. Carbon; 141: 782 - 793. 2019. 10.1016/j.carbon.2018.10.006. IF: 7.466

    Filled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) find application in a variety of fields that expand from sensors to supercapacitors going through targeted therapies. Bulk filling of CNTs in general results in samples that contain a large amount of non-encapsulated material external to the CNTs. The presence of external material can dominate the properties of the resulting hybrids and can also induce side effects when employed in the biomedical field. Unless the encapsulated payloads have a strong interaction with the inner CNT walls, an additional step is required to block the ends of the CNTs thus allowing the selective removal of the non-encapsulated compounds while preserving the inner cargo. Herein we present a fast, easy and versatile approach that allows both filling (NaI, KI, BaI2, GdCl3 and SmCl3) and end-closing of multi-walled CNTs in a single-step, forming “carbon nanocapsules”. Remarkably the encapsulation of GdCl3 and SmCl3 leads to the formation of tubular van der Waals heterostructures. The prepared nanocapsules are efficiently internalized by cells without inducing cytotoxicity, thus presenting a safe tool for the delivery of therapeutic and dianostic agents to cells. The synergies of novel carbon and inorganic hybrid materials can be explored using the present approach. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd


2017

  • Graphene in the Design and Engineering of Next-Generation Neural Interfaces

    Kostarelos K., Vincent M., Hebert C., Garrido J.A. Advanced Materials; 29 (42, 1700909) 2017. 10.1002/adma.201700909. IF: 19.791

    Neural interfaces are becoming a powerful toolkit for clinical interventions requiring stimulation and/or recording of the electrical activity of the nervous system. Active implantable devices offer a promising approach for the treatment of various diseases affecting the central or peripheral nervous systems by electrically stimulating different neuronal structures. All currently used neural interface devices are designed to perform a single function: either record activity or electrically stimulate tissue. Because of their electrical and electrochemical performance and their suitability for integration into flexible devices, graphene-based materials constitute a versatile platform that could help address many of the current challenges in neural interface design. Here, how graphene and other 2D materials possess an array of properties that can enable enhanced functional capabilities for neural interfaces is illustrated. It is emphasized that the technological challenges are similar for all alternative types of materials used in the engineering of neural interface devices, each offering a unique set of advantages and limitations. Graphene and 2D materials can indeed play a commanding role in the efforts toward wider clinical adoption of bioelectronics and electroceuticals. © 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


2016

  • Gadolinium-functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes as a T1 contrast agent for MRI cell labelling and tracking

    Servant A., Jacobs I., Bussy C., Fabbro C., Da Ros T., Pach E., Ballesteros B., Prato M., Nicolay K., Kostarelos K. Carbon; 97: 126 - 133. 2016. 10.1016/j.carbon.2015.08.051. IF: 6.198

    The development of efficient contrast agents for cell labelling coupled with powerful medical imaging techniques is of great interest for monitoring cell trafficking with potential clinical applications such as organ repair and regenerative medicine. In this paper, functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) were engineered for cell labelling in T1-weighted MRI applications. These sophisticated constructs were covalently functionalised with the gadolinium (Gd) chelating agent, diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA), enabling tight attachment of Gd atoms onto the nanotube surface. The resulting Gd-labelled MWNTs were found to be stable over 2 weeks in water and mouse serum and high payload of Gd atoms could be loaded onto the nanotubes. The r1 relaxivity of the Gd-MWNTs was a 3-fold higher than of the clinically approved T1 contrast agent Magnevist at a magnetic field strength of 7T. The contrast efficiency, expressed as the r1 relaxivity, of the Gd-MWNTs in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial cells (HUVEC) was investigated at 7T and was found to be around 6.6 mM-1 s-1. There was no reduction of the contrast efficiency after internalisation in HUVECs, which was imparted to the ability of carbon nanotubes to translocate the cell membrane. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.