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Molecular machines supported on mesoporous silica nanoparticles for drug delivery applications.

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For purposes of drug delivery, mesoporous silica nanoparticles have received a great deal of attention because they are non-cytotoxic, are readily uptaken by cells, and are capable of carrying high payloads of therapeutic molecules within the pores. When the nanoparticles are equipped with a mechanism that can regulate the release of cargo molecules, sophisticated drug delivery systems can be obtained. The functional materials that are the subject of this dissertation are designed to operate under biological conditions and represent a significant step toward the development of nanodevices for highly controlled drug delivery applications.;Mesoporous silica nanoparticles are prepared using a surfactant-templated sol-gel process, and are functionalized with molecular machines to create materials that are capable of trapping guest molecules within the pores and then releasing them on command. The machines used are switchable molecules that undergo large-amplitude motion on command. When attached to the surface of the silica nanoparticles, they operate by blocking the pore orifices in one configuration such that encapsulated molecules are contained, but then unblocking the orifices in another configuration such that encapsulated molecules are released. In this dissertation, nanoparticles functionalized with various molecular machines that respond to various stimuli including light, enzyme, and pH activation are described. Luminescence spectroscopy is used to monitor the operation of each system discussed.
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