ChinaNANO 2017 Conference

The 7th International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, China 2017 (ChinaNANO 2017) will be held in Beijing on 29 – 31 August, bringing together scientists from across the globe. ChinaNANO 2017 is intended to stimulate discussions on the forefront of research in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The conference will focus on the following topics:

1.   Carbon Nanomaterials
2.   Inorganic Nanomaterials and Metal-organic Frameworks
3.   Self-Assembly and Soft Nanomaterials
4.   Nanocatalysis
5.   Nano-Composites and Applications
6.   Energy Nanotechnology
7.   Environmental Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
8.   Nanophotonics and Plasmonics
9.   2D Materials beyond Graphene and Nanodevices
10. Nanocharacterization
11. Standards and Metrology
12. Modeling and Simulation of Nanostructures
13. Nanobiotechnology and Nanomedicine
14. Nanotechnology for Bioimaging and Diagnostics
15. Safety and Health of Nanomaterials
16. Printing of Nanomaterials and Applications
17. Optoelectronic Nanomaterials and Devices
18. Bioinspired Interfacial Materials and Devices

We are also proud to announce the Nanoscale Horizons Symposium at ChinaNANO 2017, with talks from Nanoscale and Nanoscale Horizons editorial board members promoting discussions at the forefront of nano research.

Abstracts are invited from all areas of nanoscience and technology until 30 April so submit your abstract now! For more information about this exciting conference, please visit their web page.

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Outstanding Reviewers for Nanoscale in 2016

Following the success of Peer Review Week in September 2016 (dedicated to reviewer recognition) during which we published a list of our top reviewers, we are delighted to announce that we will continue to recognise the contribution that our reviewers make to the journal by announcing our Outstanding Reviewers each year.

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Nanoscale in 2016, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Professor Katsuhiko Ariga, National Institute for Materials Science
Dr Yu-Lun Cheuh, National Tsing Hua University
Dr Zheyu Fang, Peking University
Professor Nam-Gyu Park, Sungkyunkwan University
Dr Ilia Valov, Research Centre Jülich
Dr Zhikun Wu, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science
Dr Yusuke Yamauchi, National Institute for Materials Science
Professor Yuchao Yang, Peking University
Professor Shu-Hong Yu, University of Science and Technology of China
Professor Haibo Zeng, Nanjing University of Science and Technology

We would also like to thank the Nanoscale board and the nanoscience community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé. You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre

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Detecting trace biomarkers using SERS in the fight against cancer

Written by Dr Lee Barrett

Cancer remains the leading cause of death worldwide. Therefore, the importance of early screening of cancer can aid in the prevention and treatment. However, early onset of cancers can often produce limited or no symptoms. In this regard, researchers have turned their attention to miRNA biomarkers found in serum as potential biomarkers for cancer detection. At the onset of cancer, miRNA biomarkers often present at very low concentrations representing a big challenge for researchers to develop analytical tools that can achieve the sensitivity required.

Researchers from Nanjing, China and Georgia, USA have investigated surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) as a viable technique for the detection of 3 miRNA biomarkers related to lung cancer. To achieve this, the researchers used a silver nanorod (AgNR) array to provide the plasmonic enhancement required for SERS. The substrate was subsequently functionalised with molecular beacons (MBs) containing different Raman reporters (ROX, Cy5 and FAM) that are complementary to the miRNA targets. In the absence of miRNA target, the SERS signal remains high since the MBs, and, therefore, the Raman reporters, are orientated close to the AgNR substrate. However, when the MBs hybridise to the target sequence, the SERS signal drops in a concentration-related manner allowing quantitation of the target miRNAs in buffer and human serum. The limits of detection for the 3 biomarkers, miRNA-21/486/375, were 393, 176 and 144 aM, respectively.

This research highlights the advantages of using SERS for biomarker detection. The low sensitivity and ability to multiplex make SERS a promising analytical technique for future clinical analyses for cancer detection and other diseases.

Scheme 1 Schematic illustration of the preparation and application of the molecular beacon functionalized-SERS sensor for simultaneously measuring multiple miRNAs.

An ultrasensitive SERS sensor for simultaneous detection of multiple cancer-related miRNAs
C. Y. Song, Y. J. Yang, B. Y. Yang, Y. Z. Sun, Y. P. Zhao and L. H. Wang
Nanoscale, 2016, 8, 17365-17373

Dr Lee Barrett is a guest web writer for the Nanoscale blog. Lee is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at the University of Strathclyde. His research is currently focused on the development of nanoparticle-based sensors and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). Follow him on twitter @L_Bargie

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Direct real-time detection of single proteins using silicon nanowire-based electrical circuits

By .

Written by Alexander Cook

The development of analytical devices that convert biological response into an electrical signal is a very important goal with great potential benefits for clinical diagnostics, environmental science, and defense.

In a recent communication published in Nanoscale, researchers discuss findings from a newly developed single silicon nanowire (SiNW) based biosensor, which is able to directly detect protein adsorption/desorption at single-molecule resolutions.

Fig. 1 Schematic demonstration of SiNW FET-based electrical biosensors, where Au electrodes are passivated by using a thermally deposited 50 nm-thick SiO2 layer. The inset shows how His-tag F1-ATPase is immobilized on the surface of SiNWs through Ni2+ chelation.

SiNW’s were synthesised following an Au-catalysed vapor deposition method and then high-density SiNW array devices were fabricated on silicon substrates using photolithography. Subsequently the devices were functionalized in a stepwise manner to impart the biomolecule recognizing Nickel functionality, and characterized with XPS and FTIR spectroscopy.

By combining theses devices with microfluidic systems, the authors were able to achieve real-time, direct detection of the chelation between Nickel and the imidazole of His-tags in the target biomolecules (F1 ATPases) at the single-event level. This nondestructive and label-free sensor shows great promise for number verification and real-time monitoring of proteins in complex biological systems.

Direct real-time detection of single proteins using silicon nanowire-based electrical circuits
Jie Li, Gen He, Hiroshi Ueno, Chuancheng Jia, Hiroyuki Noji, Chuanmin Qi and Xuefeng Guo
Nanoscale, 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6NR04103E

Alexander Cook is a guest web writer for the RSC journal blogs. He is a PhD researcher in the Perrier group at the University of Warwick, focusing on polymer materials and their use in various applications. Follow him on twitter @alexcook222

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Top 10 Reviewers for Nanoscale

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Nanoscale in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Name Institution
Dr Yuchao Yang Peking University
Professor Shu-Hong Yu University of Science and Technology of China
Professor Zhuang Liu Soochow University
Professor Haibo Zeng Nanjing University of Science and Technology
Dr Katsuhiko Ariga National Institute for Materials Science
Professor David Lou Nanyang Technological University
Dr Yu-Lun Chueh National Tsinghua Univeristy
Dr Wolfgang Parak Philipps University Marburg
Dr Jihang Lee University of Michigan
Dr Ilia Valov Research Centre Juelich

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Nanoscale board and all of the nanoscience community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.


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pH-responsive polyrotaxane self-assembly leads to exciting stimuli-responsive nanoparticles

By .

Written by Alexander Cook

Polyrotaxanes are an exciting class of materials that in recent years have found applications in self-healing materials, coatings, nanomedicine, and biomaterials. This interesting supramolecular polymer architecture conveys unusual and dynamic properties not found in conventional covalently bonded polymer materials.

Fig. 1 DLS (number) analysis of PRX 5 (0.1 mg mL−1 ) at pH 7.2 (continuous line) and the self-assembly of PRX 5 into SA-PRX 5 at pH 2 (dashed line).

Commercially available PEG of 10 and 20 kDa were threaded into CDs with two different threading degrees of 28% and 65%. The CDs were modified with succinic anhydride to give approximately 4 carboxylic acid groups per CD ring.

At neutral pH, the 28% threaded polyrotaxanes formed self-assembled nanoparticles due to movement of the CD units along polymer chains to form segregated regions of more hydrophobic CD in the core and PEG chains at the periphery. When the pH of the polymer solution was less than 3 the subsequently charged CDs electrostatically repel each other and the nanoparticles fall apart to give their corresponding unimolecular polyrotaxanes in an extended conformation. By cycling the pH of the polyrotaxane system, nanoparticles can be formed and disassembled up to three times.

These nanoparticles are proposed to be of interest and significance for oral drug delivery systems that could be responsive to the lumen of the stomach (pH 1 – 3.8), and thus release therapeutics when the nanoparticles dissociate at low pH values.

Nanoparticles assembled via pH-responsive reversible segregation of cyclodextrins in polyrotaxanes
Blaise L. Tardy, Shereen Tan, Henk H. Dam, Hirotaka Ejima, Anton Blencowe, Greg G. Qiao and Frank Caruso
Nanoscale, 2016, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C6NR04841B

Alexander Cook is a guest web writer for the RSC journal blogs. He is a PhD researcher in the Perrier group at the University of Warwick, focusing on polymer materials and their use in various applications. Follow him on twitter @alexcook222

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HOT article: Ultra-small lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles for tumor-penetrating drug delivery

Written by Susannah May

When it comes to cancer treatment, smaller can sometimes be better, as a new HOT article published in Nanoscale has shown. New ultra-small hybrid nanoparticles, developed by Jiangfang Zhang and a team based at the University of California, have proven highly effective at delivering anti-cancer drugs in mice – the nanoparticles, which are under 25nm in size, could penetrate deep into the tumours of the mice to release the drug where it would be most effective.

The size of drug delivery nanocarriers has a crucial role in how effective they are at moving through the body: too large, and they will be cleared by the liver; too small, and they will be filtered by the kidneys. Cancer drug carriers work best at sizes below 50nm, where they can more easily infiltrate tumours, but preventing such small particles from aggregating once synthesised can be a challenge. Zhang’s team used both lipids and polymers to make their nanoparticles highly stable, even in physiological conditions –  the polymer cores took up the hydrophobic drug, while the lipid coating provided stability and protection from the aqueous environment of the body.

The nanoparticles were targeted to tumour cells by conjugating them to folate ligands – when injected into mice with induced tumours, the number of target nanoparticles present within the tumours was three times that of non-targeted carriers. What’s more, the anti-cancer drug docetaxel could be loaded into the nanoparticles and used to treat the mice, with highly promising results. Over half of the mice treated with the hybrid nanocarriers were still alive 64 days after having tumours induced, a significant extension compared to a clinically used drug treatment.

Read the full article here:

Ultra-small lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles for tumor-penetrating drug delivery

Diana Dehaini, Ronnie H. Fang, Brian T. Luk, Zhiqing Pang, Che-Ming J. Hu, Ashley V. Kroll, Chun Lai Yu,  Weiwei Gao and Liangfang Zhang*
Nanoscale, 2016, Advance Article

Susannah May is a guest web writer for the RSC Journal blogsShe currently works in the Publishing Department of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has a keen interest in biology and biomedicine, and the frontiers of their intersection with chemistry. She can be found on Twitter using @SusannahCIMay.

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The role of advanced nanomaterials in tackling key global challenges

by Duncan Graham and Kian Ping Loh

Duncan Graham, University of Strathclyde

Kian Ping Loh, National University of Singapore

As human demand on earth’s limited resources continues to grow and evolve, global challenges are emerging that require solutions to sustain the quality of life and improve communities where socio-economic disparities remain.  The chemical sciences, and in particular advanced nanomaterials, can play a leading role in providing solutions to some of these global challenges.  Top of the list in terms of the most pressing global challenges is the change in our environment.  For instance, the quality of air that we breathe is being affected by industrialization and other human activities. Can more efficient chemical processes be devised to reduce the release of pollutants into the atmosphere? Or can new materials be produced which sequester and maintain the quality of the air which we are used to breathing?

Climate change has been discussed since the 1830s and it is clear that human activities are having a highly detrimental effect on our climate.  Can nanoscience provide solutions to reduce the rising temperatures experienced globally? Can chemistry have a role in understanding some of the mechanisms that are resulting in climate change and as a result provide effective mediation measures?

Water is the major component of the surface of our planet – however an alarmingly large number of countries struggle to have access to this most basic necessity for drinking, agriculture and sanitation.  Can chemistry and advanced nanomaterials provide solutions to new desalination processes? Or be used to harness solar energy to provide sanitation in remote parts of the globe?

In addition to our environmental concerns, the human population is increasing in some parts of the world which results in a greater demand for food, energy and agricultural lands; this all contributes to increasing food prices.  Can we find chemical solutions to enhance the ability to feed our growing population and can these be effective solutions in the areas that need it most?

With a rapidly aging population in many developed countries, health is also a concern across the globe.  People are living longer – health monitoring and diagnostics create the need for wearable, portable sensors. With the boundaries between countries becoming increasingly transparent, infectious diseases, caused by rapidly mutating biological agents, are potentially worrying. Anti-microbial resistance features prominently in the national research agenda of many countries. Drug discovery is taking longer and costing more than it should.  Can chemistry, and in particular advanced nanomaterials, play a role in addressing some of these health challenges which are common to all countries across the globe?  Can we produce new materials for sensing, diagnosis of disease or produce a therapeutic effect using different mechanisms to traditional small molecule drugs?

Finally, all of the earth’s activities require energy and we have to move towards a sustainable energy future.  Can chemistry play a role in providing new materials which can harvest solar energy efficiently? Furthermore, can we safely harness the potential cleanliness of nuclear fuel? How can bioenergy be used to create a sustainable future based on renewables?  These global challenges affect everyone on the planet and unless steps are taken now, with a strong scientific basis for the solutions, the future health and wellbeing of the global civilisation is at risk.

Read more »

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iPAINT: brushing-up on super resolution microscopy

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Written by Dr Lee Barrett

In recent years, super-resolution microscopy has enabled researchers to explore biological interfaces at the nanoscale. Single-molecule localization methods, such as point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (PAINT), are fundamental techniques for studying the morphology and architecture of living matter. While super-resolution microscopy techniques like PAINT have acquired the interest of researchers in biology, it remains elusive to applications in soft matter and materials science.

In issue 16 of Nanoscale, researchers from the Netherlands have endeavoured to overcome the limitations of PAINT, such as a pre-requisite for hydrophobic domains or specific ligand/receptor pairs, by introducing interface point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (iPAINT). In short, this new technique enables nanometre resolution imaging of interfaces by non-covalent, continuous labelling during imaging. This was achieved by labelling silica nanoparticles with polyethylene glycol (PEG) end-functionalized with a photoactivatable rhodamine analogue (PEG552) that is able to continuously adsorb and desorb from the interface. This method of labelling is essential for interfaces such as emulsions, foams and crystals like ice.

By employing iPAINT as a generic imaging method, the authors are able to obtain super-solution images at different interfaces in 3D. This innovation allows users to develop PAINT in other fields, such as colloid and interface science, food science, soft matter physics and nanotechnology.

iPAINT: a general approach tailored to image the topology of interfaces with nanometer resolution
A. Aloi, N. Vilanova, L. Albertazzi and I. K. Voets
Nanoscale, 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6NR00445H

Dr Lee Barrett is a guest web writer for the Nanoscale blog. Lee is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at the University of Strathclyde. His research is currently focused on the development of nanoparticle-based sensors and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). Follow him on twitter @L_Bargie

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Siligraphene gets serious about solar cells: Nanoscale article featured in Chemistry World

Theoretical scientists have predicted SiC7 – a new phase of the graphene–silicene hybrid siligraphene, which if synthesisable, could revolutionise flexible optoelectronic devices such as solar cells.

A charge density map reveals delocalised π bonds in SiC7 siligraphene's irregular hexagonal rings

SiC7 siligraphene has an interesting structure with a graphene-like honeycomb lattice, but unlike graphene, its hexagonal rings are irregular. The scientists expect SiC7 siligraphene to be much better than SiC2 siligraphene and single-layer black phosphorus at absorbing sunlight. Additionally, broken symmetry caused by silicon doping would create band gaps that boost its optoelectronic properties.

Interested to know more? Read the full article by Suzanne Howson in Chemistry World.

The original article is free to access and can be read at:

SiC7 siligraphene: a novel donor material with extraordinary sunlight absorption
Huilong Dong, Liujiang Zhou, Thomas Frauenheim, Tingjun Hou, Shuit-Tong Lee and Youyong Li
Nanoscale, 2016,8, 6994-6999.

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