For the past week the third year of natural sciences has been immersed in quantum mechanics and magnetism, in particular in understanding how on the nanoscale, quantum size effects favour the formation of single-domain particles, giving rise to powerful magnets. Such magnets show a lot of promise in hyperthermia treatment of tumours due to their ability to cause localised heating when interacting with an applied magnetic field. This occurs due to the single domain particles being randomly aligned in the absence of an applied magnetic field. When a magnetic field is then applied, the domains align with the applied field, reaching a thermodynamically favoured state and releasing thermal energy.
The subject has been fascinating, not least because of how different disciplines are involved in the process. Antibodies can be developed to target specific membrane antigens expressed exclusively in cancer cells, for example. A procedure then needs to be designed to allow the magnetic nanoparticle to bind to the organic ligand molecule, ensuring this won’t break down before reaching the target or interfere with the structure of the antibody to inhibit its function. Predicting heat loss due to pulsing applied magnetic fields will depend upon the magnetic susceptibility of the material and the observed hysteresis effects, the results of which can be compared to key temperatures for apoptosis to identify the viability of the technique!
This forms a large part of the second deliverable in the current core module, the work of which is piling up very quickly amongst designing genetic algorithms, presenting the latest research on the mechanisms of cirrus cloud formation, vector functions, project work and planning the I-science society’s biggest event yet, all of which will be explained in more detail soon!