Researchers Switch Nanocontainer’s State With Simple Light Irradiation

In a recent publication of Tokyo Tech’s Laboratory for Chemistry and Life Science researchers, we learned how easily water and light could work together in helping change the state of a micelle-type nano-container.

The study was published in Nature Communications, where authors Lorenzo Catti (JSPS/Humboldt postdoctoral fellow), Natsuki Kishida, Michito Yoshizawa reported their findings.

Great Promise for “Non-invasive Delivery of Biomolecules and Synthetic Drugs”

Researchers have successfully demonstrated that they can use water and light, although Dr. Yoshizawa argues that:

“Active use of both of them in synthetic and materials chemistry has seldom been accomplished so far but is an urgent necessity for the development of sustainable modern technologies.”

The light stimulus changes the structure of the amphiphilic subunits, which begins closing and then opening the binding pocket.

Considering both water and light are clean and abundant resources on Earth, this is a breakthrough for many technologies.

According to the news release from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the team achieved this successful demonstration through a “small design change:”

“The achievement is grounded on a small design change in the subunit of the nanosized container. By moving the two polyaromatic panels on a previous amphiphilic compound one carbon atom closer together, the authors enabled a photochemical reaction between the panels that results in quantitative closing of the binding pocket.”

In their experiment, researchers showed that this reaction could be partially or fully reversed with light irradiation and heating, respectively.

The effort of the research group began in 2013 when the team introduced a new system considered to be an “aromatic micelle.”

As for the application of their findings, Dr. Yoshizawa concludes:

“In a biomedical context, the developed system holds great promise for future progress in non-invasive delivery of biomolecules and synthetic drugs.”

The system will be improved so that it can allow a weaker light source for irradiation, so that that it can also reach the goal of being used in-vivo delivery application.

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