by Keyword: Dielectric Spectroscopy

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Valenti, S., Yousefzade, O., Puiggalí, J., Macovez, R., (2020). Phase-selective conductivity enhancement and cooperativity length in PLLA/TPU nanocomposite blends with carboxylated carbon nanotubes Polymer 191, 122279

Transmission electron microscopy, temperature-modulated differential scanning calorimetry, and broadband dielectric spectroscopy were employed to characterize ternary nanocomposites consisting of carboxylated carbon nanotubes (CNT) dispersed in a blend of two immiscible polymers, poly(L,lactide) (PLLA) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The nanocomposite blends were obtained by melt-compounding of PLLA and TPU in the presence of 0.2 wt-% CNT, either in the presence or absence of a Joncryl® ADR chain extender for PLLA, leading to reactive and non-reactive melt mixed samples. In both cases, the binary PLLA/TPU blend is characterized by phase separation into submicron TPU droplets dispersed in the PLLA matrix, and displays two separate glass transition temperatures. The carbon nanotubes are present either inside the TPU phase (samples obtained without chain extender), or at their boundaries (reactive-melt mixed samples). The effect of the sub-micron confinement of the TPU component is to decrease the cooperativity length of the primary segmental relaxation of this polymer, which is accentuated by the presence of the CNT fillers. Depending on the type of sample, five or six distinct relaxations are observed by means of dielectric spectroscopy, which we are able to assign to different dielectric phenomena. Our dielectric data show that the CNT fillers do not contribute directly to the long-range charge transport in the nanocomposite blends, consistent with the nanocomposites morphology, but rather result in a shift of the Maxwell-Wagner-Sillars space-charge frequency associated with charge accumulation at the PLLA/TPU boundary. Such shift testifies to a selective conductivity enhancement of the TPU phase due to the filler.

Keywords: Conductivity enhancement, Cooperatively rearranging region, Dielectric spectroscopy, Glass transition, Maxwell-Wagner-Sillars relaxation, Nanofiller

Valenti, S., Diaz, A., Romanini, M., del Valle, L. J., Puiggalí, J., Tamarit, J. L., Macovez, R., (2019). Amorphous binary dispersions of chloramphenicol in enantiomeric pure and racemic poly-lactic acid: Morphology, molecular relaxations, and controlled drug release International Journal of Pharmaceutics 568, 118565

We characterize amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) of the Chloramphenicol antibiotic in two biodegradable polylactic acid polymers, namely a commercial sample of enantiomeric pure PLLA and a home-synthesized PDLLA copolymer, investigating in particular the effect of polylactic acid in stabilizing the amorphous form of the drug and controlling its release (e.g. for antitumoral purposes). Broadband dielectric spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry are employed to study the homogeneity, glass transition temperature and relaxation dynamics of solvent-casted ASD membranes with different drug concentrations. We observe improved physical stability of the ASDs with respect to the pure drug, as well as a plasticizing effect of the antibiotic on the polymer, well described by the Gordon-Taylor equation. The release of the active pharmaceutical ingredient from the films in a simulated body fluid is studied by UV/vis spectroscopy at two different drug concentrations (5 and 20% in weight). The amount of released drug is found to be proportional to the square root of time, with proportionality constant that is almost the same in both dispersions, despite the fact that the relaxation time and thus the viscosity of the two samples differ by four orders of magnitude at body temperature. Since the drug release kinetics does not display a significant dependence on the drug content in the carrier, it may be expected to remain roughly constant during longer release times.

Keywords: Amorphous drug, Controlled liberation, Dielectric spectroscopy, Molecular mobility, Plasticizer, Polymer enantiomerism

Cuervo, A., Dans, P. D., Carrascosa, J. L., Orozco, M., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Direct measurement of the dielectric polarization properties of DNA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, (35), E3624-E3630

The electric polarizability of DNA, represented by the dielectric constant, is a key intrinsic property that modulates DNA interaction with effector proteins. Surprisingly, it has so far remained unknown owing to the lack of experimental tools able to access it. Here, we experimentally resolved it by detecting the ultraweak polarization forces of DNA inside single T7 bacteriophages particles using electrostatic force microscopy. In contrast to the common assumption of low-polarizable behavior like proteins (εr ~ 2–4), we found that the DNA dielectric constant is ~ 8, considerably higher than the value of ~ 3 found for capsid proteins. State-of-the-art molecular dynamic simulations confirm the experimental findings, which result in sensibly decreased DNA interaction free energy than normally predicted by Poisson–Boltzmann methods. Our findings reveal a property at the basis of DNA structure and functions that is needed for realistic theoretical descriptions, and illustrate the synergetic power of scanning probe microscopy and theoretical computation techniques.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, capsid protein, DNA, double stranded DNA, amino acid composition, article, atomic force microscopy, bacteriophage, bacteriophage T7, dielectric constant, dipole, DNA binding, DNA packaging, DNA structure, electron microscopy, ligand binding, nonhuman, polarization, priority journal, protein analysis, protein DNA interaction, scanning probe microscopy, static electricity, virion, virus capsid, virus particle, atomic force microscopy, atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Bacteriophage T7, Capsid, Cations, Dielectric Spectroscopy, DNA, DNA, Viral, DNA-Binding Proteins, Electrochemical Techniques, Ligands, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Chemical, Nuclear Proteins