Editorial Feature

Can Thermal Analysis Be Applied to Nanobiotechnology?

Nanobiotechnology reflects the convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology. It includes the development of bio-synthetic and environmentally friendly technology for the purpose of producing novel materials at the nanoscale. This article focuses on utilizing thermal analysis in various applications of nanobiotechnology.

Can Thermal Analysis Be Applied to Nanobiotechnology?

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What is Thermal Analysis?

The term "thermal analysis" (TA) refers to a number of approaches where a sample is programmed through a specified temperature profile while the characteristic of the sample is continually assessed. Thermomechanical analysis (TMA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) are some of the methods used most frequently.

Applying Thermal Analysis in Nanobiotechnology

Nanobiotechnology invovles the use of novel and developed nanoscale materials for nano-based drug delivery systems (DDS), nano-biosensors for medical disease detection, and nanoscale imaging agents for cancer diagnosis.

Analytical methods are carried out to determine and quantify the characteristics of the parent nanomaterial or the altered bulk material as a function of time across a temperature range from -150 to 1600 °C or at a fixed temperature. 

These techniques are primarily used to characterize the mechanical, physical, and chemical attributes of nanomaterials and attain a better understanding of their structure. They are also used for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Glass transition, crystallization behavior, melting, ligand-protein interaction, interfacial responses, and sorption-desorption phenomenon are among the significant effects that can be studied by DSC.

The primary uses of TGA include thermal stability testing and content analysis of nanomaterials. TMA is typically used to investigate how materials expand or contract. The most effective technique for describing a material's force, frequency, and amplitude- dependent mechanical behavior is DMA.

Thermal techniques can also be used to analyze interactions that may affect nanomaterial coatings, such as those in which the nanomaterial becomes exposed to environmental systems like biological or water media.

What are the Advantages of Thermal Analysis in Nanobiotechnology?

There are several advantages to using thermal analysis for nanomaterial morphology and characterization in nanobiotechnology, including minimal sample preparation and quick evaluation of several characteristics.

Thermal analysis methods are ideal for quality control due to their low cost and rapid measurement. They are particularly useful for confirming the morphology and chemical composition of nanomaterials as well as for determining the stability of drug-encapsulated nanomaterial-based delivery systems.

Nano-calorimetric techniques, in particular, are advantageous due to their small size. They can be applied with high throughput automation or for single measurements.

It can also be used in production to assess batch-to-batch reproducibility because commercial instrumentation is easily accessible and results are often simple enough to comprehend.

Recent Research: the Use of Thermal Analysis in Nanobiotechnology

Recent years have witnessed new developments in the application of thermal analysis in nanobiotechnology. To monitor the manufacture, processing, performance (dissolution), and stability of solid-state drug delivery systems, it is often necessary to have a thorough understanding of their physicochemical properties at a high spatial resolution.

Goh et al., reported the development of a nano-thermal analysis (nano-TA) in the journal “Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews”. Nano-TA was created to fully characterize materials with surface heterogeneity.

Nano-thermal analysis (nano-TA) combines thermal analysis and atomic force microscopy (AFM). In addition to providing physical information using standard AFM, it describes how these systems behave under heat as an additional chemical dimension.

Some nanoparticles (NPs), like the metallic nanoparticles utilized in nano-biotechnological applications, contain a surface modification or coating to help with stability and dispersion. Quantification of surface coating is crucial because it might have an impact on how nanoparticles behave in a biological setting.

Microscale thermogravimetric analysis, also known as μ-TGA, is an elevated temperature quartz-crystal micro-balance (QCM) technique that was recently invented to check the nanoparticle purity, as well as the presence of any surface coating, according to the study "Determination of Nanoparticle Surface Coatings and Nanoparticle Purity Using Microscale Thermogravimetric Analysis" published in "Analytic Chemistry".

The study's findings showed that it was possible to determine the quantity of surface bound ligand coverage present on gold nanoparticles (GNPs) and revealed that silicon oxide (SiO2) nanoparticles were coated by poly(ethylene glycol).

To examine the catalytic function of NPs, Sedlackova et al. conducted TGA of pure nitrate and nitrate-based nanofluids with SiO2 and aluminium oxide (Al2O3) nanoparticles (1% wt.).

The results confirmed that nanoparticles have a catalytic role in nanofluids via accelerating the nitrate to nitrite breakdown at temperatures under 500 °C (up to 4%).

In another research investigation, Wang et al. demonstrated how to measure metabolite concentrations in either flow-injection or flow-through modes, using a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) differential thermal bio-sensor combined with micro-fluidics.

Their findings suggested that the device would be able to support continuous monitoring of metabolites like glucose when used in conjunction with subcutaneous sampling techniques. There are also commercially available thermal analysis techniques in the industry.

Commercial Availability of Thermal Analysis Methods

Following are a few examples of companies or laboratories dealing with thermal analysis technologies.

Particle Technology Labs is based in Illinois, United States and offers in particle sizing and characterization services. They have differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA).

Innovatech Labs has three variants of thermo-graphic analysis available, representing various methods of heating the sample as weight change is tracked over time. The first type of thermogravimetry is static or isothermal, in which the temperature is constant. Second is quasistatic thermogravimetry, which applies a succession of escalating temperatures, followed by dynamic thermogravimetry, which changes the temperature linearly.

Future Outlook

The most widely employed thermal analysis methods are commercially available and it can be said that a better understanding of the mechanical, physical, and chemical characteristics of nanomaterial will lead to more efficient synthesis and incorporation of the nanomaterial in various nanobiotechnology-related applications. 

As the research is advancing, new methods for thermal analysis are being created. The shortcomings of current methods will be eliminated by the novel and upcoming TA methods, and will require an even lesser amount of the sample. The scope and applicability of thermal analysis in nanobiotechnology will be expanded as these approaches become robust and more reliable.

Continue reading: What is Nanobiotechnology Used For?

References and Further Reading

Innovatech Labs Helping Ensure Product Cleanliness and Composition with FTIR Testing [Online]. Available at: https://www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=12018 (Accessed on 10 May 2023)

Svobodova-Sedlackova A, Huete-Hernández S, Calderón A, Barreneche C, Gamallo P, Fernandez AI. (2022) Effect of Nanoparticles on the Thermal Stability and Reaction Kinetics in Ionic Nanofluids. Nanomaterials. 12(10). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35630999/

Particle Technology Labs : Quotes, Address, Contact [Online]. Available at: https://www.azonano.com/suppliers.aspx?SupplierID=1578 (Accessed on 10 May 2023)

Wang L, Sipe DM, Xu Y, Lin Q. (2008) A MEMS Thermal Biosensor for Metabolic Monitoring Applications. J Microelectromechanical Syst. 17(2). pp. 318–27. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/4473360

Sci-Hub | nanoscale thermal analysis for nanomedicine by nanocalorimetry. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology, 4(1), 31–41 | 10.1002/wnan.155 [Online]. Available at: https://sci-hub.se/https://wires.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wnan.155 (Accessed on 10 May 2023)

Goh CF, Lane ME. (2022) Advanced structural characterisation of pharmaceuticals using nano-thermal analysis (nano-TA). Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 180, p. 114077. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34896130/

Mansfield E, Tyner KM, Poling CM, Blacklock JL. (2014) Determination of nanoparticle surface coatings and nanoparticle purity using microscale thermogravimetric analysis. Anal Chem. 86(3): pp. 1478–1484. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/ac402888v​​​​​​​

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Arzoo Puri

Written by

Arzoo Puri

Ms. Arzoo Puri has a Master’s degree in biomedical sciences and believes that science is constantly advancing thereby creating new discoveries each day.  She likes to utilize her skills and experience to contribute to the astounding medical advancements that take place every day. In 2022, she completed her master's dissertation and research training from Nanobios Lab, IIT-Bombay, India, and has finished her position as a scientific writer at Eureka, which she had undertaken while pursuing her masters. Her core interests lie in nanotechnology-based research, biomedical science and cannabis science. Her research goals are mainly directed toward the field of biosensors, point-of-care testing devices, bioimplants, drug delivery, medical diseases, and nanomaterials such as Graphene quantum dots.

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