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Production of amorphous nanoparticles by supersonic spray-drying with a microfluidic nebulator

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 956-960
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9582

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Crystal nuclei beaten to the punch

Amorphous nanoparticles often dissolve more rapidly than their crystalline counterparts, which can be useful in applications such as drug delivery. Amstad et al. made amorphous nanoparticles from organic and inorganic compounds—even table salt—using droplets of dissolved compounds created with a microfluidic nebulator. The solvent evaporates fast enough that nanoparticles form before crystal nuclei can develop. The small particle size inhibits crystallization for periods of months

Science, this issue p. 956

Abstract

Amorphous nanoparticles (a-NPs) have physicochemical properties distinctly different from those of the corresponding bulk crystals; for example, their solubility is much higher. However, many materials have a high propensity to crystallize and are difficult to formulate in an amorphous structure without stabilizers. We fabricated a microfluidic nebulator that can produce amorphous NPs from a wide range of materials, even including pure table salt (NaCl). By using supersonic air flow, the nebulator produces drops that are so small that they dry before crystal nuclei can form. The small size of the resulting spray-dried a-NPs limits the probability of crystal nucleation in any given particle during storage. The kinetic stability of the a-NPs—on the order of months—is advantageous for hydrophobic drug molecules.

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