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Open AccessArticle

Mapping Nanoparticles in Hydrogels: A Comparison of Preparation Methods for Electron Microscopy

1
Department of Electronic Systems, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, O. S. Bragstads plass 2 B, 7034 Trondheim, Norway
2
Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine/Cellular and Molecular Imaging Core Facility, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(12), 2446; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8122446
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 26 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 1 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanocomposite Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications)
The distribution of noble metal nanoparticles (NMNPs) in hydrogels influences their nanoplasmonic response and signals used for biosensor purposes. By controlling the particle distribution in NMNP-nanocomposite hydrogels, it is possible to obtain new nanoplasmonic features with new sensing modalities. Particle positions can be characterized by using volume-imaging methods such as the focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) or the serial block-face scanning electron microscope (SBFSEM) techniques. The pore structures in hydrogels are contained by the water absorbed in the polymer network and may pose challenges for volume-imaging methods based on electron microscope techniques since the sample must be in a vacuum chamber. The structure of the hydrogels can be conserved by choosing appropriate preparation methods, which also depends on the composition of the hydrogel used. In this paper, we have prepared low-weight-percentage hydrogels, with and without gold nanorods (GNRs), for conventional scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging by using critical point drying (CPD) and hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) drying. The pore structures and the GNR positions in the hydrogel were characterized. The evaluation of the sample preparation techniques elucidate new aspects concerning the drying of hydrogels for SEM imaging. The results of identifying GNRs positioned in a hydrogel polymer network contribute to the development of mapping metal particle positions with volume imaging methods such as FIB-SEM or SBFSEM for studying nanoplasmonic properties of NMNP-nanocomposite hydrogels. View Full-Text
Keywords: metal nanocomposite hydrogels; particle positions; nanoplasmonic sensor; preparation methods; SEM imaging; volume imaging metal nanocomposite hydrogels; particle positions; nanoplasmonic sensor; preparation methods; SEM imaging; volume imaging
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MDPI and ACS Style

Muri, H.I.; Hoang, L.; Hjelme, D.R. Mapping Nanoparticles in Hydrogels: A Comparison of Preparation Methods for Electron Microscopy. Appl. Sci. 2018, 8, 2446.

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