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Design and synthesis of degradable nanoparticles are very important in drug delivery and biosensing fields. Although accurate assessment of nanoparticle degradation rate would improve the characterization and optimization of drug delivery vehicles, current methods rely on estimating the size of the particles at discrete points over time using, for example, electron microscopy or dynamic light scattering (DLS), among other techniques, all of which have drawbacks and practical limitations. There is a significant need for a high-throughput and cost-effective technology to accurately monitor nanoparticle degradation as a function of time and using small amounts of sample. To address this need, here we present two different computational imaging-based methods for monitoring and quantification of nanoparticle degradation. The first method is suitable for discrete testing, where a computational holographic microscope is designed to track the size changes of protease-sensitive protein-core nanoparticles following degradation, by periodically sampling a subset of particles mixed with proteases. In the second method, a sandwich structure was utilized to observe, in real-time, the change in the properties of liquid nanolenses that were self-assembled around degrading nanoparticles, permitting continuous monitoring and quantification of the degradation process. These cost-effective holographic imaging based techniques enable high-throughput monitoring of the degradation of any type of nanoparticle, using an extremely small amount of sample volume that is at least 3 orders of magnitude smaller than what is required by, for example, DLS-based techniques.

Aniruddha Ray, Shuoran Li, Tatiana Segura, Aydogan Ozcan

Ray, A; Li, S; Segura, T; Ozcan, A