Russian scientists have created nanoparticles of silicon «burning» the cancer

© Zograf et al. / Nano Letters 2017Ученые from Russia created nanoparticles of silicon burning cancerRussian scientists have created nanoparticles of silicon «burning» the cancer© Zograf et al. / Nano Letters 2017

. Physicists from Russia and Finland has created a new type of silicon nanoparticle that can be simultaneously used to kill cancer tumors by heating them to extremely high temperatures and to measure temperatures inside the body, according to a paper published in the journal Nano Letters.

«In the future, such nanosystems will allow targeted to kill cancer cells by heating and temperature control in real time saves healthy cells from uncontrolled overheating», – says Sergey Makarov of the University ITMO, talking about the benefits of silicon nanoparticles.

In recent years, scientists have created several new methods of cancer treatment based on various organic or inorganic nanoparticles. In some cases, the nanoparticles themselves are the means for the removal of the tumor, acting as a kind of «target», which are induced or immune cells, or the laser radiation heats the particles and burning cells.

As adds George the Zograf, a leading author and colleague Makarova at ITMO, today most scientists use for such purposes, the nanoparticles of gold and other metals, well absorbing light and infrared radiation and converts it into heat.

All of them have one common disadvantage – the temperature of these «nanograin» is actually impossible to measure how changes in their radiation. Therefore, such nanoparticles, despite the high efficiency of their work, can destroy not only cancer, but also neighboring healthy cells, which prevents their widespread application. Additionally, nanoparticles of many metals are toxic and dangerous for the cells, which also imposes restrictions on their work.

Silicon nanoparticles, as scientists tell us, are deprived of and that and the other problem is the range of radiation is changed when it is heated, and the particles are easily decomposed by the body. On the other hand, in physics quite a long time believed that silicon nanoparticles cannot be used as such thermal grenades, as they absorb the energy of light is much worse than pieces of gold and other metals.

As shown by experiments carried out by Russian and Finnish physicists, it’s actually not. They managed to heat the silicon nanoparticles to a temperature of 900 degrees Celsius, irradiating them with red or infrared laser, similar to that which is in CD-players, and thus to accurately register the changes in the heating of microscopic fields until the temperature of their melting.

Interestingly, silicon nanospheres were approximately four times more efficient absorbers of light energy than the gold nanoparticles, which can be used for equally effective cancer control whilst reducing the laser power. It additionally protects healthy tissue from damage or make cancer therapy more reliable due to the possibility to flexibly manage the temperature of the particle, changing the wavelength of the laser.

In addition to fighting cancer, these nanoparticles, according to scientists, can be used for other purposes – for example, to speed up chemical reactions, as sensors of temperature or component of element of other nanodevices.