2010 R&D100 Award Winner
APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Remote drug delivery inside the body
- Less invasive surgeries
- UV-resistant plastics and composites
- Self-healing plastics, polymers, paint, or concrete
- Master template preparation for offset printing
- Cosmetic and skin care items
- Reaction speed, timing, and location can be controlled
- Can target a single cell or blanket an entire surface
- Can release specific encapsulated chemicals without rupturing neighboring microcapsules
- Superior stability for stored chemicals
Alex Zettl, Jean Fréchet, David Okawa, and Stefan Pastine of Berkeley Lab are the first to use lasers instead of mechanical stress to remotely release microcapsules containing liquid chemicals and trigger a chemical reaction on demand. The Berkeley Lab invention can be customized for a broad range of medical and specialty material applications.
The response to light by the new phototriggerable nylon microcapsules is made possible by a composition of light-absorbing materials such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) or dyes. When infrared (IR) or visible light is focused on a Berkeley Lab microcapsule, the interior is heated, subsequently expanding the microcapsules until they rupture due to increased pressure. As a result, the chemicals they contain are released into the surrounding air or solution. The Berkeley Lab invention grants the unsurpassed ability to store incompatible liquid chemicals in the same container for weeks at a time, delaying a chemical reaction until it is needed and then initiating the reaction with light.
For the biomedical industry, microcapsules in the sub-micron size regime can be prepared and their light-absorbing qualities adjusted to absorb near-IR lasers that penetrate the body. The lasers can remotely direct microencapsulated chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells only or to release microcapsules containing surgical glue or cement during orthopedic surgeries such as hip replacements.
For the home improvement and construction industries, the new invention can be used to fabricate self-healing plastics, polymers, paint, concrete and composites. For example, epoxy materials composed of microencapsulated monomers and catalysts could, when scratched, release their contents to mix and form a seal when exposed to light. In addition, the microcapsules, used in conjunction with an inexpensive laser, could be used to make master templates for offset printing applications.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: A bench scale prototype has been developed.
STATUS: Published PCT patent application WO2011/028884 available at www.wipo.int. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
A Cell Injection System Using Carbon Nanotubes, IB-2323, IB-2333
Hollow Nanocrystals and Nanoreactors, IB-2012, 2018
REFERENCE NUMBER: JIB-2778