A joint team from the University of Seville and the University of Nottingham has achieved a first by successfully 3D printing an image made up of stabilized gold nanoparticles with biocompatible and biodegradable systems. The innovative image—the University of Seville’s logo—and the technology behind it could have an impact on the pharmaceutical field.
Gold is recognized as one of the most valuable and luxurious metals on the planet. Beyond its luxury appeal, however, gold also has important applications in the medical field. In one particular area of research, gold-based biosensors have proven to be effective at detecting carcinogenic cells and tumor biomarkers.
At the same time, 3D printing has become an invaluable technology in the medical sector—used to produce anatomical models, custom surgical guides and tools and more. Now, the combination of biocompatible gold sensors and 3D printing are coming together in an exciting way.
The research team in question worked with an inkjet 3D printing technique, capable of printing multiple materials at once, to develop systems that could function as tailored biosensors based on the conductivity of gold.
Printing gold has been something of a challenge, and existing gold inks for inkjet printing are highly unstable, meaning they bind together easily and can be challenging to print with precision. Therefore, the researchers had to find a way to create stable gold inks for their biosensors.
In the end, the joint team developed a way to stabilize tiny gold nanoparticles by using polyurethane polymers with a comb structure. The polymers used were made from a natural sugar material, arabinose, which is fully biocompatible and biodegradable. The polymer ink was 3D printed alongside a gold ink, serving to stabilize it. Tests conducted on the printed inks demonstrated that the biodegradable polymer would be stable for at least six months.
The research project was led by Ana Alcudia Cruz from the Department of Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Seville, in partnership with a group led by Rafael Prado Goto from the Chemistry Faculty. Researcher Ricky Wilman, from the University of Nottingham in the UK, also assisted in the project.