New carbon nanocapsules could mean more ways to deliver cosmetic actives

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

New carbon nanocapsules could mean more ways to deliver cosmetic actives

Related tags Nanoparticle Nanotechnology

Researchers at ETH Zurich, that city’s university for science, tech, engineering, etc., have created a new nanocapsule that’s hydrophobic inside and hydrophilic outside.

The team has published their work in Wiley’s Angewandte Chemie Journal under the title, “Hollow Carbon Nanobubbles: Synthesis, Chemical Functionalization, and Container-Type Behavior in Water.”

New and improved

Remarking on the overall value of the project, Wiley calls the carbon nanocapsules “an interesting new approach for the production of novel nanotransportation systems,”​ in an item about the research published on

Carbon nanocapsules are of interest in the beauty and medical industries because they are biocompatible and inert, explains the Wiley item. Previous versions however have been too small or too porous to use as a delivery mechanism. 


The published abstract describes in broad strokes how to make the thin-walled hollow carbon nanospheres: “First, metal nanoparticles, coated with a few layers of graphene-like carbon, are selectively modified on the outside with a covalently attached hydrophilic polymer.

“Second, the metal core is removed at elevated temperature treatment with acid, leaving a well-defined carbon-based hydrophobic cavity.”

Better bubbles

The Swiss team’s new carbon nanobubbles are expected to be used to carry and diver drugs and active ingredients that are intended to be delivered over a long stretch of time, as “these bubbles are very soluble in water and can spontaneously take up hydrophobic molecules, releasing them only when their concentration in the surroundings gets very low,” ​according to Wiley.  

Scientific theories

While this latest research looks to be advancing nanotechnology and making it more practical in industrial applications, other recent research suggests that not all nanotech is good is for business.

Early this year, “researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory observed that some nanoparticles diminish the function of macrophage immune cells while others cause cell death,” as Cosmetics Design reported at the time​.

That research looked specifically at the effects of silicon oxide, iron oxide, and cobalt oxide. But it may be wise to remain skeptical of any new nanotech discoveries that haven’t yet been thoroughly vetted.

Related topics Formulation & Science Skin Care

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