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Publications

by Keyword: Water

Fuentes E, Gabaldón Y, Collado M, Dhiman S, Berrocal JA, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2022). Supramolecular Stability of Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide Supramolecular Polymers in Biological Media: Beyond the Stability-Responsiveness Trade-off Journal Of The American Chemical Society 144, 21196-21205

Supramolecular assemblies have been gaining attention in recent years in the field of drug delivery because of their unique formulation possibilities and adaptive behavior. Their non-covalent nature allows for their self-assembly formulation and responsiveness to stimuli, an appealing feature to trigger a therapeutic action with spatiotemporal control. However, facing in vivo conditions is very challenging for non-covalent structures. Dilution and proteins in blood can have a direct impact on self assembly, destabilizing the supramolecules and leading to a premature and uncontrolled cargo release. To rationalize this behavior, we designed three monomers exhibiting distinct hydrophobic cores that self-assemble into photo-responsive fibers. We estimated their stability-responsiveness tradeoff in vitro, finding two well-separated regimes. These are low-robustness regime, in which the system equilibrates quickly and responds readily to stimuli, and high-robustness regime, in which the system equilibrates slowly and is quite insensitive to stimuli. We probed the performance of both regimes in a complex environment using Fo''rster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Interestingly, the stability-responsiveness trade-off defines perfectly the extent of disassembly caused by dilution but not the one caused by protein interaction. This identifies a disconnection between intrinsic supramolecular robustness and supramolecular stability in the biological environment, strongly influenced by the disassembly pathway upon protein interaction. These findings shed light on the key features to address for supramolecular stability in the biological environment.

JTD Keywords: Azobenzene, Critical micellization, Fret, Guide, Nanoparticles, Ph, Photoisomerization, Polymerization, Shape, Water


Vilela, Diana, Guix, Maria, Parmar, Jemish, Blanco‐Blanes, Àngel, Sánchez, Samuel, (2022). Micromotor‐in‐Sponge Platform for Multicycle Large‐Volume Degradation of Organic Pollutants Small 18, 2107619

Calò A, Eleta-Lopez A, Ondarçuhu T, Verdaguer A, Bittner AM, (2021). Nanoscale wetting of single viruses Molecules 26,

The epidemic spread of many viral infections is mediated by the environmental conditions and influenced by the ambient humidity. Single virus particles have been mainly visualized by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in liquid conditions, where the effect of the relative humidity on virus topography and surface cannot be systematically assessed. In this work, we employed multi-frequency AFM, simultaneously with standard topography imaging, to study the nanoscale wetting of individual Tobacco Mosaic virions (TMV) from ambient relative humidity to water condensation (RH > 100%). We recorded amplitude and phase vs. distance curves (APD curves) on top of single virions at various RH and converted them into force vs. distance curves. The high sensitivity of multifrequency AFM to visualize condensed water and sub-micrometer droplets, filling gaps between individual TMV particles at RH > 100%, is demonstrated. Dynamic force spectroscopy allows detecting a thin water layer of thickness ⁓1 nm, adsorbed on the outer surface of single TMV particles at RH < 60%.

JTD Keywords: amplitude-modulation am-afm, atomic-force microscopy, capillary, force reconstruction, multifrequency afm, nanoscale wetting, persistence, reconstruction, relative-humidity, surfaces, tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), tobamovirus, transmission, water, Amplitude-modulation am-afm, Force reconstruction, Multifrequency afm, Nanoscale wetting, Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), nanoscale wetting, Tobacco-mosaic-virus


Said Al-Tawaha, A.R.M., Singh, S., Singh, V., Kafeel, U., Naikoo, M.I., Kumari, A., Amanullah, I., Al-Tawaha, A.R., Qaisi, A.M., Khanum, S., Thangadurai, D, Sangeetha, J., Islam, S., Etesami, H., Kerkoub, N., Amrani, A., Labidi, Z., Maaref, H., Nasri, H., Sanmukh, S.G., Torrents, E. , (2020). Improving water use efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency in rice through breeding and genomics approaches Rice Research for Quality Improvement: Genomics and Genetic Engineering (ed. Roychoudhury, A.), Springer (Singapore, Singapore) Volume 2: Nutrient Biofortification and Herbicide and Biotic Stress Resistance in Rice, 307-337

Rice is a staple food of more than half of the world’s population; more than 3.5 billion inhabitants depend on rice for obtaining 20% of their daily calorie intake. Nitrogen is the most important for crop growth and yield potential. Indeed, nitrogen is essential to stimulate tillering, leaf growth, photosynthesis, and protein synthesis. Significant achievements have recently been observed at the molecular level in nitrogen use efficiency and water use efficiency in plants. In this chapter we will discuss the following issue: (i) definition of both nitrogen use efficiency and water use efficiency, (ii) genes responsible for nitrogen use efficiency and water use efficiency, (iii) best ways for improving water and nutrient use efficiency in rice, and (iv) optimizing nitrogen options for improving water and nitrogen use efficiency of rice under different water regimes.

JTD Keywords: Rice, Water use efficiency, Nitrogen use efficiency, Breeding, Genomics approaches


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Metal-oxide-based microjets for the simultaneous removal of organic pollutants and heavy metals ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 10, (24), 20478-20486

Water contamination from industrial and anthropogenic activities is nowadays a major issue in many countries worldwide. To address this problem, efficient water treatment technologies are required. Recent efforts have focused on the development of self-propelled micromotors that provide enhanced micromixing and mass transfer by the transportation of reactive species, resulting in higher decontamination rates. However, a real application of these micromotors is still limited due to the high cost associated to their fabrication process. Here, we present Fe2O3-decorated SiO2/MnO2 microjets for the simultaneous removal of industrial organic pollutants and heavy metals present in wastewater. These microjets were synthesized by low-cost and scalable methods. They exhibit an average speed of 485 ± 32 μm s–1 (∼28 body length per s) at 7% H2O2, which is the highest reported for MnO2-based tubular micromotors. Furthermore, the photocatalytic and adsorbent properties of the microjets enable the efficient degradation of organic pollutants, such as tetracycline and rhodamine B under visible light irradiation, as well as the removal of heavy metal ions, such as Cd2+ and Pb2+.

JTD Keywords: Micromotors, Photocatalytic, Water purification, Fenton, Magnetic control, Iron oxide, Manganese oxide


Parmar, J., Villa, K., Vilela, D., Sánchez, S., (2017). Platinum-free cobalt ferrite based micromotors for antibiotic removal Applied Materials Today 9, 605-611

Self-propelled micromotors have previously shown to enhance pollutant removal compared to non-motile nano-micro particles. However, these systems are expensive, difficult to scale-up and require surfactant for efficient work. Efficient and inexpensive micromotors are desirable for their practical applications in water treatment technologies. We describe cobalt-ferrite based micromotors (CFO micromotors) fabricated by a facile and scalable synthesis, that produce hydroxyl radicals via Fenton-like reaction and take advantage of oxygen gas generated during this reaction for self-propulsion. Once the reaction is complete, the CFO micromotors can be easily separated and collected due to their magnetic nature. The CFO micromotors are demonstrated for highly efficient advanced oxidative removal of tetracycline antibiotic from the water. Furthermore, the effects of different concentrations of micromotors and hydrogen peroxide on the antibiotic degradation were studied, as well as the generation of the highly reactive hydroxyl radicals responsible for the oxidation reaction.

JTD Keywords: Degradation, Fenton reaction, Microbots, Nanomotors, Self-propelled Micromotors, Water treatment


Parmar, J., Vilela, D., Pellicer, E., Esqué-de los Ojos, D., Sort, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Reusable and long-lasting active microcleaners for heterogeneous water remediation Advanced Functional Materials 26, (23), 4152-4161

Self-powered micromachines are promising tools for future environmental remediation technology. Waste-water treatment and water reuse is an essential part of environmental sustainability. Herein, we present reusable Fe/Pt multi-functional active microcleaners that are capable of degrading organic pollutants (malachite green and 4-nitrophenol) by generated hydroxyl radicals via a Fenton-like reaction. Various different properties of microcleaners, such as the effect of their size, short-term storage, long-term storage, reusability, continuous swimming capability, surface composition, and mechanical properties, are studied. It is found that these microcleaners can continuously swim for more than 24 hours and can be stored more than 5 weeks during multiple cleaning cycles. The produced microcleaners can also be reused, which reduces the cost of the process. During the reuse cycles the outer iron surface of the Fe/Pt microcleaners generates the in-situ, heterogeneous Fenton catalyst and releases a low concentration of iron into the treated water, while the mechanical properties also appear to be improved due to both its surface composition and structural changes. The microcleaners are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nanoindentation, and finite-element modeling (FEM).

JTD Keywords: Catalysts, Heterogeneous catalysis, Microcleaners, Micromotors, Nanorobots, Wastewater treatment


Fresco-Cala, B., Jimenez-Soto, J. M., Cardenas, S., Valcarcel, M., (2014). Single-walled carbon nanohorns immobilized on a microporous hollow polypropylene fiber as a sorbent for the extraction of volatile organic compounds from water samples Microchimica Acta , 181, (9-10), 1117-1124

We have evaluated the behavior of single-walled carbon nanohorns as a sorbent for headspace and direct immersion (micro)solid phase extraction using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as model analytes. The conical carbon nanohorns were first oxidized in order to increase their solubility in water and organic solvents. A microporous hollow polypropylene fiber served as a mechanical support that provides a high surface area for nanoparticle retention. The extraction unit was directly placed in the liquid sample or the headspace of an aqueous standard or a water sample to extract and preconcentrate the VOCs. The variables affecting extraction have been optimized. The VOCs were then identified and quantified by GC/MS. We conclude that direct immersion of the fiber is the most adequate method for the extraction of VOCs from both liquid samples and headspace. Detection limits range from 3.5 to 4.3 ng L-1 (excepted for toluene with 25 ng L-1), and the precision (expressed as relative standard deviation) is between 3.9 and 9.6 %. The method was applied to the determination of toluene, ethylbenzene, various xylene isomers and styrene in bottled, river and tap waters, and the respective average recoveries of spiked samples are 95.6, 98.2 and 86.0 %.

JTD Keywords: (Micro)solid phase extraction, Nanotechnology, Oxidized single-walled carbon nanohorns, Volatiles compounds, Waters


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2012). Electrochemical microelectrodes for improved spatial and temporal characterization of aqueous environments around calcium phosphate cements Acta Biomaterialia 8, (1), 386-393

Calcium phosphate compounds can potentially influence cellular fate through ionic substitutions. However, to be able to turn such solution-mediated processes into successful directors of cellular response, a perfect understanding of the material-induced chemical reactions in situ is required. We therefore report on the application of home-made electrochemical microelectrodes, tested as pH and chloride sensors, for precise spatial and temporal characterization of different aqueous environments around calcium phosphate-based biomaterials prepared from α-tricalcium phosphate using clinically relevant liquid to powder ratios. The small size of the electrodes allowed for online measurements in traditionally inaccessible in vitro environments, such as the immediate material-liquid interface and the interior of curing bone cement. The kinetic data obtained has been compared to theoretical sorption models, confirming that the proposed setup can provide key information for improved understanding of the biochemical environment imposed by chemically reactive biomaterials.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Ion sorption, Iridium oxide, Sensors, Animals, Biocompatible Materials, Bone Cements, Calcium Phosphates, Cells, Cultured, Chlorides, Electrochemical Techniques, Gold, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hydroxyapatites, Iridium, Materials Testing, Microelectrodes, Powders, Silver, Silver Compounds, Water


Malandrino, Andrea, Noailly, Jerome, Lacroix, Damien, (2011). The effect of sustained compression on oxygen metabolic transport in the intervertebral disc decreases with degenerative changes PLoS Computational Biology Plos Computational Biology , 7, (8), 1-12

Intervertebral disc metabolic transport is essential to the functional spine and provides the cells with the nutrients necessary to tissue maintenance. Disc degenerative changes alter the tissue mechanics, but interactions between mechanical loading and disc transport are still an open issue. A poromechanical finite element model of the human disc was coupled with oxygen and lactate transport models. Deformations and fluid flow were linked to transport predictions by including strain-dependent diffusion and advection. The two solute transport models were also coupled to account for cell metabolism. With this approach, the relevance of metabolic and mechano-transport couplings were assessed in the healthy disc under loading-recovery daily compression. Disc height, cell density and material degenerative changes were parametrically simulated to study their influence on the calculated solute concentrations. The effects of load frequency and amplitude were also studied in the healthy disc by considering short periods of cyclic compression. Results indicate that external loads influence the oxygen and lactate regional distributions within the disc when large volume changes modify diffusion distances and diffusivities, especially when healthy disc properties are simulated. Advection was negligible under both sustained and cyclic compression. Simulating degeneration, mechanical changes inhibited the mechanical effect on transport while disc height, fluid content, nucleus pressure and overall cell density reductions affected significantly transport predictions. For the healthy disc, nutrient concentration patterns depended mostly on the time of sustained compression and recovery. The relevant effect of cell density on the metabolic transport indicates the disturbance of cell number as a possible onset for disc degeneration via alteration of the metabolic balance. Results also suggest that healthy disc properties have a positive effect of loading on metabolic transport. Such relation, relevant to the maintenance of the tissue functional composition, would therefore link disc function with disc nutrition.

JTD Keywords: Bovine nucleus pulposus, Human anulus fibrosus, Finite-element, Fluid-flow, Hydraulic permeability, Confined compression, Coupled diffusion, Solute transport, Water-content, Lumbar spine


Adrados, B., Julian, E., Codony, F., Torrents, E., Luquin, M., Morato, J., (2011). Prevalence and concentration of non-tuberculous Mycobacteria in cooling towers by means of quantitative PCR: A prospective study Current Microbiology , 62, (1), 313-319

There is an increasing level of interest in non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) due to the increasing reported rates of diseases caused by them. Although it is well known that NTM are widely distributed in the environment it is necessary to identify its reservoirs to prevent possible infections. In this study, we aimed to investigate the occurrence and levels of NTM in cooling towers to provide evidences for considering these settings as possible sources of respiratory infections. In the current study, we detected and quantified the presence of NTM by means of a rapid method in water samples taken from 53 cooling towers of an urban area (Barcelona, Spain). A genus-specific quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) assay with a quantification limit (QL) of 500 cells l(-1) was used. 56% (30) of samples were positive with a concentration range from 4.6 x 10(3) to 1.79 x 10(6) cells l(-1). In some cases (9/30), samples were positive but with levels below the QL. The colonization rate confirmed that cooling towers could be considered as a potential reservoir for NTM. This study also evaluated Q-PCR as a useful method to detect and quantify NTM in samples coming from environmental sources.

JTD Keywords: Real-time PCR, Disease, Identification, Tuberculosis, Pathogens, Waters


Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Catala, P. L., Samitier, J., Arundell, M., Rodriguez, I., (2009). Design of a miniaturized electrochemical instrument for in-situ O/sub 2/ monitoring Sensors and Signal Conditioning VLSI Circuits and Systems IV , SPIE (Desdren, Germany) 7363, 73630A

The authors are working toward the design of a device for the detection of oxygen, following a discrete and an integrated instrumentation implementation. The discrete electronics are also used for preliminary analysis, to confirm the validity of the conception of system, and its set-up would be used in the characterization of the integrated device, waiting for the chip fabrication. This paper presents the design of a small and portable potentiostat integrated with electrodes, which is cheap and miniaturized, which can be applied for on-site measurements for the simultaneous detection of O/sub 2/ and temperature in water systems. As a first approach a discrete PCB has been designed based on commercial discrete electronics and specific oxygen sensors. Dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) is an important index of water quality and the ability to measure the oxygen concentration and temperature at different positions and depths would be an important attribute to environmental analysis. Especially, the objective is that the sensor and the electronics can be integrated in a single encapsulated device able to be submerged in environmental water systems and be able to make multiple measurements. For our proposed application a small and portable device is developed, where electronics and sensors are miniaturized and placed in close proximity to each other. This system would be based on the sensors and electronics, forming one module, and connected to a portable notebook to save and analyze the measurements on-line. The key electronics is defined by the potentiostat amplifier, used to fix the voltage between the working (WE) and reference (RE) electrodes following an input voltage (Vin). Vin is a triangular signal, programmed by a LabView/sup c / interface, which is also used to represent the CV transfers. To obtain a smaller and compact solution the potentiostat amplifier has also been integrated defining a full custom ASIC amplifier, which is in progress, looking for a point-of-care device. These circuits have been designed with a 0.13 mu m technology from ST Microelectronics through the CMP-TIMA service.

JTD Keywords: Amplifiers, Application specific integrated circuits, Chemical sensors, Electrodes, Portable instruments, Temperature measurement, Water sources