MOSCOW, May 29. /TASS/. Russian researchers have discovered a new way to produce nanoparticles of hematite - an iron mineral, used in oncology, among other things. They made this discovery thanks to a reaction that takes place on Mars, said the press service of the Russian Science Foundation, which supported the research.
"Looking for new effective methods of synthesis of nanoparticles, the scientists analyzed a reaction that takes place on Mars after collisions with asteroids, and, during one experiment, they discovered production of iron oxide (III) particles. In the future, this method could be used for production of nanoscale sensors, bacterial infections and cancer therapy, and for visualization of processes going on in bodies of people and animals. The research was published in the Molecules journal," the press service said.
Hematite features a low level of toxicity for humans, and therefore it is useful for various fields of medicine.
When iron (III) oxide-hydroxide reacts with strong sulfuric acid, this leads to dissolution and production of iron sulfate. However, reaction of iron (III) oxide-hydroxide with diluted sulfuric acid, which takes months and sometimes years, leads to production of micro particles of various iron oxides, such as hematite.
In their study, researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology decided to conduct a reaction of iron oxide-hydroxide with sulfuric acid under low temperatures (-60 degrees Celsius), found at the surface of Mars. What they discovered is that, instead of dissolution and production of iron sulfate, the reaction produced dark red sediment of hematite nanoparticles.
The researches demonstrated that, after covering the produced particles with polyacrylic acid, they could be used for selective binding with pathological cells, such as cancer cells. If marked with a glowing pigment, these particles increase tomography of organs. In future, the scientists plan to improve and expand the applicability of the oxide in the medical field.