Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

M. Lei Geng


Many highly effective drugs display serious side-effects. To limit them, one can contain the drug in tiny containers, which are subsequently delivered toward targets inside the body. The entrapment of drug molecules prevents them from coming in contact with and thus causing damage to normal cells. Inherently, it is difficult to reach 100% efficiency of drug trapping and release when employing physical caps to seal the vehicles. Instead, we propose drug trapping inside the nanopores of hydrophobic silica particles by "hydrophobic trapping". This phenomenon is associated with the repulsive "force field" generated inside nanometer-sized hydrophobic channels that completely prevents aqueous solutions from entering the channels. We demonstrate the excellent trapping efficiency using C18-modified silica particles with 10 nm pores and the anticancer drug doxorubicin.

The major challenge in using hydrophobic particles in biological applications is their tendency to cluster in aqueous media. To overcome it, we use surfactants as solubilization means. We have developed protocols that effectively solubilize the outer surface of the particles while preventing surfactant micelles from entering nanopores. Consequently, particles become well-dispersible in aqueous solutions, with the pre-loaded drug safely contained inside nanopores.

Nanomaterials exhibit heterogeneity on their surfaces that impact their functional applications. Although techniques such as atomic force microscopy are great tools for studying nanomaterials with their excellent spatial resolution, they cannot probe the inner surface of porous structures. We have established a method of single-molecule ratiometric imaging that is currently the only technique able to provide the nanopolarity of adsorption sites located on the pore surface. We analyze the polarity distribution of adsorptions events for the solvatochromic probe Nile Red at the C18/acetonitrile interface and discover at least two different populations of adsorption sites. One of them corresponds to the polarity of surface silanol groups while the other sites have a polarity consistent with the environment inside the C18 organic layer. We also discover an additional adsorption mode situated at a polarity higher than exposed silanol surface that could presumably be linked to a different ionization state of the silanol groups.

We are developing a method for resolving spectra of complex samples using two-dimensional hetero-correlation spectroscopy by correlating the intensity fluctuations in optical spectra to those of completely separated peaks in analytical separations. We demonstrate this methodology for fluorescence spectra and electrophoregrams of mixtures anthracene-pyrene. All the individual vibronic features that overlap in mixtures are cleanly extracted in cross-sections of the two-dimensional asynchronous spectrum.


2D-FCS, Biomedical, Drug delivery, Nanoporous, Silica, Single-molecule


xvi, 272 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 254-272).


Copyright 2013 Claudiu Stelian Brumaru

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