The central theme of this dissertation is to understand the chemical processing science of advanced ceramic materials for biomedicine, including therapy and imaging. The secondary component focuses on the chemical processing of energy materials.
Recently, layered double hydroxide (LDH) nanoparticles (NPs) with various intercalated compounds (e.g. fluorescent molecules, radio-labeled ATP, vitamins, DNA, and drugs) have exhibited versatility and promise as a combined therapeutic and diagnostic (i.e. theranostic) vector. However, its eventual acceptance in biomedicine will be contingent on understanding the processing science, reproducibly synthesizing monodispersed NPs with controlled mean particle size (MPS), and ascertaining the efficacy of the NPs for drug delivery and imaging. First, statistical design of experiments were used to optimize the wet chemistry synthesis of (Zn, Al)-LDH NPs. A synthesis model, which allows the synthesis of nearly monodispersed NPs with controlled MPS, was developed and experimentally verified. Also, the evolution of the nanostructure was characterized, from coprecipitation to hydrothermal treatment, to identify the formation mechanisms. Next, the biocompatibility, cellular uptake and drug delivery capability of LDH NPs were studied. In an in vitro study, using cultured pancreatic adenocarcinoma BXPC3 cells, valproate-intercalated LDH NPs showed an improved efficacy (~50 fold) over the sodium valproate alone. Finally, Gd(DTPA)-intercalated LDH NPs were synthesized and characterized by proton (1H) nuclear magnetic resonance. The longitudinal relaxivity (r1) of 28.38 s-1 mM-1, which is over 6 times higher than the clinically approved contrast agent, Gd(DTPA), demonstrated the potential of this vector for use in magnetic resonance imaging.
Visible light-transparent single metal-semiconductor junction devices, which convert ultraviolet photon energy into high open circuit voltage (Voc>1.5-2 V), are highly desirable for transparent photovoltaics that can potentially power an electrochromic stack for smart windows. A Schottky junction solar cell, comprised of sputtered ZnO/ZnS heterojunction with Cr/Au contacts, was fabricated and an Voc of fî1.35 V was measured. Also, a low-cost route to form ZnO/ZnS heterojunctions by partial sulfurization of solution-grown ZnO thin films (350 nm-5 fÝm thick; conductivity comparable to phosphorus-doped Si) was demonstrated. A final study was on a cathode material for Li-ion batteries. Phase-pure LiFePO4 powders were synthesized by microwave-assisted sol-gel method and characterized.