2024 Lunar New Year Collection

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Chinese and Lunar New Year from everyone on the Nanoscale Horizons, Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances teams! To celebrate the start of the Year of the Dragon, we are delighted to highlight some of the most popular articles published in our nanoscience journals last year by corresponding authors based in countries celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Read the collection now

Nanoscale Horizons, Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances Lunar New Year promotional graphic with a red background and an image of a gold dragon surrounded by clouds and fireworks. Text reads: " Wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year 2024, May you enjoy a very prosperous and productive year of the Dragon".

All of the articles in these collections are free to access until the end of March 2024. We hope you enjoy reading these popular articles and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous year of the dragon!

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Time’s dance with gold: tracking the isomeric fluctuations of Au clusters

By Jingshan Du, Community Board member.

Face-centered cubic (fcc) metals, such as Au and Ag, usually adopt a packed crystal structure in bulk. However, the equilibrium structure could differ when only a handful of atoms compose a nanocluster. Theories have predicted that particles less than a few nanometers would favor a decahedral packing with a five-fold symmetry; when even fewer atoms are present, say less than two hundred, a 20-fold icosahedral packing would become the lowest-energy configuration. Such fluctuations of the nuclei/seeds may have played a critical role in defining the shape of colloidal nanoparticles in many wet chemical syntheses.

In recent work, a cross-institutional team led by Richard E. Palmer and Thomas J. A. Slater reported the direct observation of such fluctuations on a nearly second-by-second basis. The team synthesized Au nanoclusters containing 309±15 atoms on an amorphous carbon film through mass-selected magnetron sputtering. Subsequently, aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) was employed to track the atomic structures of Au nanoclusters with a frame rate of 0.4–0.7 per second (Fig. 1). To identify the cluster type in each frame, the team compared them to a collection of simulated images with different cluster structures and tilt angles. The clusters exhibited highly dynamic switching between decahedral, icosahedral, and single-crystalline structures under the electron beam, which is sufficiently strong to overcome the energy barriers between such transitions.

Fig. 1 Au309±15 clusters fluctuating under the electron beam. High-angle annular dark field (HAADF) imaging on an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) resolved the atomic structure of these Au nanoclusters frame by frame. Adapted from the supporting data DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10522408, CC-BY 4.0.

 

Notably, the authors showed that the Au309±15 clusters favor the decahedral structure the most, followed by icosahedral and then single-crystalline structures (Fig. 2a). This result is consistent with the probabilities obtained from a snapshot of an ensemble. In theory, the lower-energy structures would have a higher probability of appearance. The ranking of isomeric preferences observed in this study indicates that the cluster size is within a range where the energy ranks in fcc > icosahedral > decahedral (Fig. 2b). Taken together, this work illustrates the possibility of atomic-resolution electron microscopy, when combined with image simulations, to track the isomeric evolution of metal nanoclusters and may shed light on how we understand and regulate nanostructures with atomic precision.

Fig. 1 (a) Histogram of isomer abundances from dynamic movies compared with a static image of a cluster ensemble. Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00291H with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry. (b) Schematic energy landscape of cluster structures for fcc metals. A red shade indicates the cluster size range in the current study. Ih: icosahedral. Dh: decahedral. Adapted from DOI: 10.1002/anie.202015166 with permission from Wiley-VCH.

 

To find out more, please read:

Frame-by-frame observations of structure fluctuations in single mass-selected Au clusters using aberration-corrected electron microscopy
Malcolm Dearg, Cesare Roncaglia, Diana Nelli, El Yakout El Koraychy, Riccardo Ferrando, Thomas J. A. Slater, and Richard E. Palmer
Nanoscale Horiz., 2024, 9, 143-147

 


About the blogger


 

Jingshan S. Du is a Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a member of the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board. His research spans crystal formation and transformation pathways, in situ electron microscopy, and hybrid organic/inorganic nanostructures. Du received a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University in 2021. At Northwestern, he worked on complex nanoparticle systems, correlative electron microscopy of hybrid nanostructures, and nanoscale thermodynamics. Du received a Certificate for Management for Scientists and Engineers from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 2021 and a B.Sc. in Engineering from Zhejiang University Chu Kochen Honors College in 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @JingshanDu.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer or the US government.

 

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Our most popular 2023 articles

The most popular Nanoscale Horizons articles from 2023

We wanted to share with you some of the most popular articles published in Nanoscale Horizons over the last year, determined by their citations, downloads and altmetric scores.

Read the most popular Nanoscale Horizons articles

All of the articles in the collection are free to access until the end of February 2024. Discover some of the featured articles below.

Reviews

Graphical abstract image for Interfacial built-in electric-field for boosting energy conversion electrocatalysis.

Interfacial built-in electric-field for boosting energy conversion electrocatalysis
Hui Xu,* Junru Li and Xianxu Chu*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D2NH00549B

 

Graphical abstract image for Functionalizing nanophotonic structures with 2D van der Waals materials.

Functionalizing nanophotonic structures with 2D van der Waals materials
Yuan Meng, Hongkun Zhong, Zhihao Xu, Tiantian He, Justin S. Kim, Sangmoon Han, Sunok Kim, Seoungwoong Park, Yijie Shen, Mali Gong, Qirong Xiao* and Sang-Hoon Bae*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00246B

 

Graphical abstract image for Advances in Cu nanocluster catalyst design: recent progress and promising applications.

Advances in Cu nanocluster catalyst design: recent progress and promising applications
Sourav Biswas, Saikat Das* and Yuichi Negishi*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00336A

 

Communications

Graphical abstract image for Boosting efficiency of luminescent solar concentrators using ultra-bright carbon dots with large Stokes shift.

Boosting efficiency of luminescent solar concentrators using ultra-bright carbon dots with large Stokes shift
Jiurong Li, Haiguang Zhao,* Xiujian Zhao and Xiao Gong*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D2NH00360K

 

Graphical abstract image for Anti-PEG antibodies enriched in the protein corona of PEGylated nanocarriers impact the cell uptake.

Anti-PEG antibodies enriched in the protein corona of PEGylated nanocarriers impact the cell uptake
Mareike F. S. Deuker, Volker Mailänder, Svenja Morsbach* and Katharina Landfester
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00198A

 

Graphical abstract image for Phosphinecarboxamide based InZnP QDs – an air tolerant route to luminescent III–V semiconductors.

Phosphinecarboxamide based InZnP QDs – an air tolerant route to luminescent III–V semiconductors
Yi Wang, Jack Howley, Erica N. Faria, Chen Huang, Sadie Carter-Searjeant, Simon Fairclough, Angus Kirkland, Jason J. Davis, Falak Naz, Muhammad Tariq Sajjad, Jose M. Goicoechea* and Mark Green*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00162H

We hope you enjoy reading these popular articles and would be delighted if you would consider Nanoscale Horizons for your next submission.

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Injectable hydrogel reinforces cancer immunotherapy

By Susel Del Sol Fernández, Community Board member.

In the last few years, immunotherapy has paved new paths for effective treatment of different cancers. Specifically, immunotherapy stimulates T cells, a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes that help to fight germs and destroy tumours. Immunotherapy can be used as a monotherapy or combined with chemotherapy and surgery. Unfortunately, cancer cells and their microenvironment have many sophisticated defence mechanisms that pose considerable challenges to immunotherapy effectiveness and progress. Current strategies to boost cancer immunotherapy include increasing the infiltration of T cells at the tumour site or blocking immune checkpoint-producing immune evasion.

In this regard, an exciting immunotherapy combination approach has been developed by Guixiang Xu and team based on an injectable hydrogel as a carrier to deliver a drug called linagliptin which is capable of inhibiting dipeptidyl peptidases 4 (DPP4) degradation. This leads to prolonged half-life of CXCL10 chemokines and thus, increases recruitment of T cells in the tumour site. Small molecule immune checkpoint blocker (BMS-202) particles were also loaded onto the developed drug carrier to block the programmed cell death-ligand (PD-L1), avoiding immune evasion. The team demonstrated that the application of hydrogel construct (S@LB) suppresses chemokine CXCL10 degradation, increasing T-cell infiltration, while BMS-202 particles inactivate PD-L1 checkpoint in vivo.

Fig. 1 Preparation and mechanism scheme of S@LB. (A) The preparation process of the S@LB solution. (B) Schematic illustration of an injectable hydrogel to reinforce cancer immunotherapy by promoting infiltration of T cells and regulating immune evasion. Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00401E with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The team tested the in vivo anti-tumour ability, immune response, and lung anti-metastatic effect of the S@LB in combination with chemotactic CXCL10 (S@LB + CXCL10). Their recent report shows that after 18 days of tumour removal, an immune memory effect was detected for the group treated with S@LB + CXCL10.

Overall, this study shows how nano-based hydrogel immunotherapy can be used as an innovative “weapon” against primary and distant tumours, along with efficient inhibition of lung metastasis, indicating tremendous potential for developing transformative clinical applications.

 

To find out more, please read:

Hydrogel-mediated tumor T cell infiltration and immune evasion to reinforce cancer immunotherapy
Guixiang Xu, Kai Liu, Xiangwu Chen, Yang Lin, Cancan Yu, Xinxin Nie, Wenxiu He, Nathan Karinc and  Yuxia Luan
Nanoscale Horiz., 2024, Advance Article

 


About the blogger


 

Susel Del Sol Fernández is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral fellow at Aragon Nanoscience and Materials Institute (INMA-CSIC), Spain and a member of the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board. Dr Del Sol’s research focuses on designing smart functionalized magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, including magnetic-optical hyperthermia treatment and magnetogenetics. You can follow her on X @SuselDelSol

 

 

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Nanoscale Horizons: Looking back at 2023

Looking back at 2023

An overview of the exciting events, activities and news for Nanoscale Horizons from 2023

Now that 2023 has come to an end, we look back at some of the exciting events, activities and news from Nanoscale Horizons. We are continually thankful for the nano community’s engagement, which has enabled the journal to continue to support our growing community. We look forward to another great year for the journal in 2024.

Read our editorial looking back at 2023

 

Board updates

Professor Katsuhiko Ariga (National Institute for Materials Science, Japan), Dr Miaofang Chi (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA) and Professor Jin-Hong Park (Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea) joined the journal’s Editorial Board. We look forward to working with them to maximize the quality and impact of Nanoscale Horizons in the nano community.

Photos of Katsuhiko Ariga, Miaofang Chi and Jin-Hong Park.

Outstanding paper award

We were delighted to announce Seung Hwan Ko and his team, Ester Segal and her team, and Jordi Arbiol and his team as the winners of our 2022 Outstanding Paper Awards earlier last year.

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2022 Outstanding Paper Award and we hope that you enjoy reading their outstanding articles as much as we did.

Nanoscale Horizons Outstanding Paper Award promotional graphic.

Emerging investigator series

This year saw the continuation of our Emerging Investigator series, which showcases the exceptional work published by early-career researchers (i.e., less than ten years post-PhD) in the journal. The series continues to regularly highlight the corresponding author of a recently published Communication article through an interview-style Editorial and this year we featured interviews with 8 early-career researchers.

Collage of the 2023 Nanoscale Horizons Emerging Investigators. Photos (left to right) of (top) Kayoko Kobayashi, Ran Long, Saptarshi Das and Luciano Colazzo; (bottom) Christoph Wolf, Yujeong Bae, Ahu Gümrah Dumanli-Parry, and Shalini Singh.

If you are eligible and interested in submitting a paper for potential inclusion in the series, please contact the Editorial office for details.

International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 we highlighted some of the excellent female researchers publishing impactful work in nanoscience in a special collection published in Nanoscale Horizons, Nanoscale and Nanoscale Advances. The collection featured work led by female scientists around the world and showcased the impact these leading individuals have on the research published within our nanoscience journals.

Explore our Women in Nanoscience collection

If you have published in Nanoscale Horizons in 2023, and either the first and/or corresponding author of your article is a woman, you can feature in our 2024 collection! Please contact the Editorial office with the title of your article, DOI and a headshot photo of the eligible author by 1 March 2024 if you wish to be included in the collection, which will be promoted this International Women’s Day, 8 March 2024. At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we foster a culture of inclusion of women from all walks of life and look forward to continuing to celebrate all of the wonderful women in nanoscience.

Community board updates

The Nanoscale Horizons Community Board provides a platform for early career researchers to share their experiences and ideas on scientific publishing. Over the summer, we requested nominations from the nanoscience academic community and were thrilled with the high calibre of candidates nominated. We were delighted to appoint 27 new members who, together with continuing members, make up a Community Board of 50 international researchers at different stages of their early careers, ranging from PhD candidates to Professors. Meet our new Community Board members below.

Photos left to right of (top) Amina Benchohra, Fangfang Cao, Yihuang Chen, Dennis Christensen, Didem Dede, Sara, Domenici, Jingshan Du, Yuan Fang and Susel Del Sol Fernández; (middle) Minjeong Ha, Xue Han, Taskeen Janjua, Meysam Keshavarz, Yoonseob Kim, Zhiwei Li, Chunchun Li, Albert Liu and Jette Mathiesen; (bottom) Dinesh Mullangi, Michael B. Ross, Tracy Schloemer, Qianqian Shi, Jaime Andres Perez Taborda, Chao Wang, Zhenhua Wu, Akiko Yagi and Jiandong Yao.

Community board picks

Working with our Community Board we launched a new series of Community Board Picks, short article summaries highlighting the most recent advances in nanoscience and sharing our Community Board’s unique expertise.

Graphical abstract image showing H2O2 production on a transition metal embedded graphitic carbon nitride sheet.

 

Electrifying H2O2 synthesis with g-C3N-based single atom catalysts
Jungki Ryu*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH90041J

 

Graphical abstract image showing a siRNA-loaded DNA nanostructure, a damage and a restored endothelium.

 

siRNA-loaded DNA nanostructures restore endothelial leakiness
Arun Richard Chandrasekaran*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH90040A

 

Graphical abstract image showing the SERS substrate and enhancement of the SERS intensity.

 

Enhancing SERS activity with a pyroelectric-induced charge-transfer effect
Xiaolu Zhuo*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2024, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH90043F

 

Themed collection

We launched several special themed collections last year in collaboration with Materials Horizons and Nanoscale. We were delighted to publish so many outstanding articles on these important topics. Discover our 2023 collections below.

Horizons symposium

The first Horizons symposium, organized by Nanoscale Horizons and Materials Horizons, was held in Berlin, Germany earlier this year and showcased a wide variety of cutting-edge work in the areas of electronic and photonic materials, and materials for energy applications, with chemists, physicists and materials scientists presenting their most outstanding work. We were delighted to arrange such a successful conference and look forward to sharing the details of our 2024 edition with you next year. We hope to see you there.

Outstanding reviewers

We also recognized the significant contributions that our reviewers have made to the journal by highlighting the 2022 Outstanding Reviewers for Nanoscale Horizons. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all reviewers for Nanoscale Horizons and acknowledge their incredible support and the dedication of their time to providing high-quality, timely and helpful reports on submissions to the journal.

We are all aware that time is an incredibly valuable resource. All the more we are deeply indebted to our top reviewers who have invested their time to write valuable and high-quality reviews. Only with such reviews can Nanoscale Horizons be among the top journals and steadily grow in importance.” – Professor Dr Katharina Landfester, Editorial Board Chair

Focus articles

Finally, discover our latest educational articles, addressing topic areas that are often misunderstood or require greater explanation, in the Nanoscale Horizons Focus Article Collection.

Graphical abstract image showing different compositions of bimetallic core-shell nanoparticles.

 

Bimetallic core–shell nanocrystals: opportunities and challenges
Chenxiao Wang, Yifeng Shi, Dong Qin and Younan Xia*
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00098B

 

Thank you for your continued support of Nanoscale Horizons and wish you a Happy New Year!

With best wishes,
Katharina Landfester, Editorial Board Chair
Katsuhiko Ariga, Scientific Editor
Wenlong Cheng, Scientific Editor
Miaofang Chi, Editorial Board Member
Yves Dufrêne, Scientific Editor
Anna Fontcuberta i Morral, Scientific Editor
Dirk Guldi, Scientific Editor
Jin-Hong Park, Editorial Board Member
Zhiyong Tang, Scientific Editor
Jinlan Wang, Scientific Editor
Miqin Zhang, Editorial Board Member
Michaela Mühlberg, Executive Editor
Heather Montgomery, Managing Editor
Edward Gardner, Development Editor
Natalie Cotterell, Development Editor

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Measuring Carrier Density and Mobility in Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes via Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

By Albert Liu, Community Board member.

The rapidly expanding energy and computing sectors are driving demand for high-performance semiconductor materials. Organic Semiconductors (OSCs) have emerged as attractive candidates for opto-electronic devices, thanks to their high carrier mobility, stability and tunability. However, accurate and independent quantification of charge carrier density and mobility has been an ongoing challenge in the OSC community. Working to overcome this challenge, recent research by Hermosilla-Palacios et al. presents a novel method for determining charge carrier characteristics in semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (s-SWCNTs), a subtype of OSCs.

In this study, a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based approach is proposed to directly quantify charge carrier density and indirectly quantify carrier mobility (Fig. 1). The study puts forward a combined method utilizing 19F NMR and optical absorption measurements on s-SWCNTs in the presence of F-containing molecular dopants. The researchers demonstrated that changes in carrier density affect charge delocalization, resulting in a carrier density-dependent mobility, in contrary to that expected for mobility limited by ionized impurity scattering. This combined approach simplifies the measurement of carrier density in doped s-SWCNTs, constituting a valuable tool to the OSC community.

 

Fig. 1 (a) Cartoon showing the NMR tube sample composition: polymer dispersed s-SWCNT, excess polymer (in blue) and DDB-F72 molecules associated with a hole on the doped s-SWCNTs. Repeating unit of the polymer PF-PD is also presented for clarity. (b) Spectra corresponding to 19F NMR for neutral DDB-F72 dopant in d8-toluene (6 mM, bottom), PF-PD polymer used to disperse s-SWCNTs with added DDB-F72 (6 mM, middle), and dispersed s-SWCNTs with added DDB-F72 (6 mM, top). Numbers show specific chemical shift. (c) Spectra corresponding to 19F NMR for doping series of s-SWCNT. Spectra are arbitrarily displaced along the y axis to show the different doping steps clearly. Lower dopant concentration (red) to higher dopant concentrations (blue). Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00480E with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

While this study presents significant strides in measuring carrier density in s-SWCNTs, whether it can be effectively applied to a wide range of OSCs beyond s-SWCNTs remains to be seen. It should also be noted that the downfield shift observed with increasing dopant concentration may be complicated by factors other than charge delocalization of the hole distribution, such as dopant binding dynamics. The mechanistic origin of the chemical shift changes in the presence of dopants with NMR -active nuclei may refine our understanding of the local micro-environment around the redox-doped s-SWCNTs, prompting further investigations in this area.

In summary, this study develops an NMR-based method to quantify charge carrier density in s-SWCNTs and illustrates that the hole mobility in doped s-SWCNT networks increases with growing carrier density. The ability to tune, quantify, and optimize carrier density opens new avenues for applications such as photovoltaics, sensors, light-emitting diodes, field-effect transistors, and thermoelectric devices. The method’s potential applicability to various p-conjugated semiconductors using suitable NMR-active dopants makes it a versatile tool for the field. As the scientific community embraces this innovative approach, it heralds a new chapter in the design and development of high-performance semiconductor materials.

 

To find out more, please read:

Carrier density and delocalization signatures in doped carbon nanotubes from quantitative magnetic resonance
M. Alejandra Hermosilla-Palacios, Marissa Martinez, Evan A. Doud, Tobias Hertel, Alexander M. Spokoyny, Sofie Cambré, Wim Wenseleers, Yong-Hyun Kim, Andrew J. Ferguson and Jeffrey L. Blackburn
Nanoscale Horiz., 2024, Advance Article

 


About the blogger


 

Albert Liu is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, and a member of the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board. Prof. Liu’s research group studies the effects of micro-confinement in nano-structured low dimensional materials, to address challenges in sustainability, robotics, and healthcare. You can follow Albert on Twitter @Albert_T_Liu

 

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Congratulations to the winner of the Nanoscale Horizons prize at MEMRISYS 2023

The 6th International Conference on Memristive Materials, Devices & Systems (MEMRISYS 2023) took place at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy) from 5 – 9 November 2023. Nanoscale Horizons was delighted to provide a prize for the best oral presentation at the conference. Please join us in congratulating our winner, Caterina Sbandati, for being the recipient of this award!

Caterina Sbandati completed her BSc and MSc in Electronics Engineering at the University of Florence in 2017 and Politecnico of Milan in 2020 respectively. In 2021, she earned an MSc in Machine Intelligence from the University of Southampton. Caterina is currently in her final year as a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering. She is investigating real-time brain activity processing using memristive devices, under the supervision of Professor Themis Prodromakis, Regius Chair of Engineering and director of Centre for Electronics Frontiers (CEF).

As a member of CEF, she coordinates with partners at Padova and Bar-Ilan Universities, actively participating in joint in-vivo experiments bridging biology and electronics. Additionally, Caterina collaborates with the European Commission Joint Research Centre, actively contributing to the Observatory for Critical Technologies. This collaborative effort is focused on shaping new policies for EU strategic autonomy, particularly in the area of semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

Caterina was awarded the Nanoscale Horizons prize for her presentation entitled, ‘RRAM-based processing of Local Field Potentials’

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Nanoscale Horizons Emerging Investigator Series – Shalini Singh

Nanoscale Horizons Emerging Investigator Series

Congratulations to our latest Emerging Investigator Dr Shalini Singh (University of Limerick, Ireland)!

Since the launch of Nanoscale Horizons, the journal has had a clear vision to publish exceptionally high-quality work whilst acting as a resource to researchers working at all career levels. We continue to be impressed by the quality of the research published and at the same time are looking for new ways of recognising and promoting the outstanding authors behind articles published in the journal.

Last year we launched an Emerging Investigator Series to showcase the exceptional work published by early-career researchers in the journal. We will regularly select a recently published Communication article and publish an interview-style Editorial article featuring the corresponding author. We hope that the series will also benefit the nanoscience community by highlighting the exciting work being done by its early-career members.

We are excited to share our latest Emerging Investigator, Dr Shalini Singh (University of Limerick, Ireland)!

Photo of Shalini Singh.

 

 

Dr Shalini Singh is an associate professor in Chemistry at the University of Limerick. She received her PhD in chemistry from the University of Limerick in 2016 and was an FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at Ghent University, Belgium, until 2019. Since 2020, she has been leading the Functional Nanomaterial Research Group at the University of Limerick. Her research interests are focused on the development of multifunctional nanocrystals for energy conversion and storage applications.

 

Read our interview with Shalini here

Congratulations to Dr Shalini Singh for her excellent work! You can read her featured Emerging Investigator article from Nanoscale Horizons below, which is fully open access and free to read.

Colloidal synthesis of the mixed ionic–electronic conducting NaSbS2 nanocrystals
Maria Zubair, Syed Abdul Ahad, Ibrahim Saana Amiinu, Vasily A. Lebedev, Mohini Mishra, Hugh Geaney, Shalini Singh and Kevin M. Ryan
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00097D

We hope you enjoy reading our interview and featured article and are looking forward to sharing our future Emerging Investigators with you!

Do you publish innovative nanoscience and nanotechnology research? Submit your latest work to Nanoscale Horizons now. If you are eligible for the Emerging Investigators series, you could be considered to feature in one of our future interviews! Find out more about the eligibility criteria and the process in this editorial introducing the series.

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NIR-triggered multifunctional CuS-embedded nanogels for advanced chronic wounds therapy

By Jiangjiexing Wu, Community Board member.

Chronic wounds are considered a major healthcare problem all over the world. Long-term infections and/or suppressed immune responses may cause chronic wounds with slower healing, resulting in increased mortality. Although antibiotics, skin disinfectants, and hydrogels are currently being used to combat microbial pathogenesis, they still have some significant limitations when used in clinical wound healing. Therefore, researchers have been exploring alternative approaches, such as combining antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agents for advanced chronic wound therapy.

Recently, nanomaterial-based antimicrobials have gained popularity thanks to catalytic and near-infrared (NIR) irradiation treatments, which induce controlled oxidative stress (photodynamic and catalytic therapies) and hyperthermia (photothermal therapies) to eradicate bacteria. However, little research into nanomaterial-based antimicrobial activity against biofilms and chronic wound healing in vivo has previously been reported.

Fig. 1 An overview of the properties of CuS/Qu–CNGs and their role in wound healing. Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00275F with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In this regard, an NIR-triggered multifunctional quercetin carbonized nanogel embedded with copper sulfide nanoclusters (CuS/Qu-CNG) was reported by Nain et al. for advanced therapy of chronic wounds. Polymerization and mild carbonation procedures were used to prepare quercetin carbonized nanogels (Qu-CNGs), which were subsequently used as templates to grow CuS in situ forming CuS/Qu-CNGs. The resulting CuS/Qu–CNGs are photoreactive and contain antioxidant and catalytic properties (oxidase- and peroxidase-like activities). As a result of their photo-responsive properties, CuS/Qu-CNGs significantly amplified their antimicrobial activity when exposed to NIR-II light. A CuS/Qu–CNGs MIC90 value of 6–9 mg mL-1 is ~125-fold lower than Qu or Qu–CNGs under NIR-II irradiation and was further improved by ~30-fold (ca. 0.2 mg mL-1) in the presence of H2O2. Besides, CuS/Qu-CNGs demonstrated exceptional penetration ability, eliminating MRSA biofilms caused by diabetic wounds in diabetic mice. By suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β) and boosting anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 and TGF-β1), CuS/Qu-CNGs significantly accelerated wound healing by promoting angiogenesis, epithelialization and collagen synthesis. Finally, CuS/Qu–CNGs showed superior in vivo efficacy in treating bacterial infections and enhancing wound healing in diabetic mice.

In summary, a “Three in One” multifunctional CuS/Qu-CNGs with excellent antimicrobial/antioxidative/anti-inflammatory properties demonstrate great potential in treating bacterial infections and promoting chronic wound healing. This work is expected to provide new solutions for wound treatment complicated by microbial pathogenesis.

 

To find out more, please read:

NIR-activated quercetin-based nanogels embedded with CuS nanoclusters for the treatment of drug-resistant biofilms and accelerated chronic wound healing
Amit Nain, Yu-Ting Tseng, Akash Gupta, Yu-Feng Lin, Sangili Arumugam, Yu-Fen Huang, Chih-Ching Huang and Huan-Tsung Chang
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, 8, 1652-1664

 


About the blogger


 

Jiangjiexing Wu is an Associate Professor at Tianjin University and a member of the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board. Dr Wu’s research focuses on the rational design and synthesis of functional nanomaterials (such as nanozymes) for analytical, biomedical, and environmental applications.

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Defect engineering enhances CO2 reducing photocatalysts

By Yuanxing Fang, Community Board member.

Recycling CO2 molecules through photocatalysis represents an innovative technology to mitigate the emission of CO2 gas. The deliberate introduction of defects into a photocatalyst plays a crucial role in optimizing photocatalytic performance, since the defects regulate the electronic structure, fine-tune selectivity by enhancing catalytic activity, and reduce the activation barrier of the catalyst.

A team of researchers based in Australia have recently developed a photocatalytic system for CO production by CO2 reduction. In this study, defect-rich g-C3N4 serves as a semiconducting substrate, and it was further loaded with Ag nanoparticles (NPs) to act as a plasmonic source, resulting in the creation of the g-C3N4-Ag photocatalyst. The defects within the g-C3N4 were known as the active sites that enhance the efficiency of photocatalytic CO2 conversion. In addition, these defects are strategically positioned alongside the loaded Ag NPs, which improves the effectiveness of injected hot electrons from the Ag NPs, thereby synergistically enhancing the activity of photocatalytic CO2 reduction.

In the experiments involving defect-rich g-C3N4, different photodeposition times, including 10 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, and 5 hours, were performed to load Ag particles, denoted the as-preared photocatalyst as g-C3N4-Ag 10m, 1h, 3h, and 5h, respectively. These variants were evaluated for their photocatalytic performance in CO production via CO2 reduction (Fig. 1a). The optimal performance was achieved with g-C3N4-Ag 1h, and the production of CO was confirmed through isotopic experiments (Fig. 1b). The g-C3N4-Ag photocatalysts were characterized using scanning transmission electron microscopy, as typical image is presented in Fig. 1c and the corresponding elemental mapping were presented in Fig. 1d to 1g.

Fig 1. (a) CO production rate based on various g-C3N4 based photocatalysts. (b) Isotope labelling experiments tested under 13CO2 and 12CO2, and the mass spectrometry signals at m/z = 28 and m/z = 29 are 13CO and 12CO, respectively. (c) STEM dark field image and (d)–(g) elemental mapping of g-C3N4-Ag 1h catalyst. Scale bar: 300 nm. Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00348E with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

To elucidate the mechanism behind the defect engineering scenario, Ag NPs were initially loaded onto g-C3N4 via photodeposition. Due to the electron-rich environment of the point defects on g-C3N4, Ag+ ions selectively grow on these defect sites. The resulting g-C3N4-Ag composite was subsequently annealed. During this process, the new defects formed on the g-C3N4 substrate owing to the strain induced by the differing thermal expansion rates between the Ag and g-C3N4. These new defects were found to be located around the Ag NPs, representing a significant change in the pristine g-C3N4 following the introduction of Ag.

Furthermore, density functional theory (DFT) calculations were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of how the defects in g-C3N4 improve performance. Three models of photocatalysts were considered, including pristine g-C3N4, g-C3N4 with N vacancies, and N vacancies in g-C3N4 with O sites on the surface. In the models of pristine g-C3N4 and g-C3N4 with N vacancies, the formation of *COOH intermediates was identified as the rate-limiting step (RDS), and moreover, N vacancies in g-C3N4 were found to enhance the activity in this conversion (Fig 2a). For N vacancies in g-C3N4 with additional surface O sites (Fig. 2b), the initial reaction step favored the formation of *COOH intermediates from a thermodynamic perspective. Subsequently, the reduction of *COOH intermediates to *CO species occurred by reacting with protons, releasing H2O molecules. In the case of O-enriched g-C3N4, this conversion became the RDS. DFT calculations indicated that the ΔG values for *COOH and *H to form *CO and H2O at the C defect active sites were 0.96 eV, which determined the reaction rate (Fig. 2c). These results provide insight into the reasons behind the improved performance in CO production through CO2 reduction.

Fig 2. Optimized configurations of reaction intermediates *COOH and *CO on the C atom and N vacancy active sites of (a) g-C3N4 with N vacancy and (b) N vacancies in g-C3N4 with O sites on the surface. (Red ball is oxygen atom, white ball is hydrogen atom, gray is carbon atom, and blue is nitrogen atom) (c) Gibbs free energy diagrams for photocatalytic CO2 reduction to CO on g-C3N4, g-C3N4 with N vacancy and O-occupied g-C3N4. Reproduced from DOI: 10.1039/D3NH00348E with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In summary, the deliberate introduction of active defects into g-C3N4 photocatalysts, strategically positioned near the plasmon centers of Ag NPs, optimizes the utilization efficiency of plasmonic hot electrons, resulting in an enhanced efficiency for CO2 photoreduction. Importantly, this strategy has the potential for extension to various systems based on polymers, hard materials, and hybrid materials, offering promising applications that harness the functionalities of defects in a wide range of fields.

 

To find out more, please read the full article:

Defect engineering enhances plasmonic-hot electrons exploitation for CO2 reduction over polymeric catalysts
Hang Yin, Zhehao Sun, Kaili Liu, Ary Anggara Wibowo, Julien Langley, Chao Zhang, Sandra E. Saji, Felipe Kremer, Dmitri Golberg, Hieu T. Nguyen, Nicholas Cox and Zongyou Yin
Nanoscale Horiz., 2023, Advance Article

 


About the blogger


Photo of Yuanxing Fang.

 

Yuanxing Fang is a Professor at Fuzhou University, and a member of the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board. Prof. Fang’s research lab focuses on the synthesis of metal-free semiconductors for photoelectrochemical systems for energy and environmental applications, including water splitting, hydrogen peroxide synthesis, organic transformations and others.

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