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Observation of metal nanoparticles at atomic resolution in Pt-based cancer chemotherapeutics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

A. A. Sheader, A. M. Varambhia, R. A. Fleck, S. J. L. Flatters, P. D. Nellist

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-97
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
Early online date1 Nov 2017
Accepted/In press26 Sep 2017
E-pub ahead of print1 Nov 2017
PublishedApr 2018


King's Authors


The chemotherapeutics cisplatin and oxaliplatin are important
tools in the fight against cancer. Both compounds are
platinum complexes. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission
electron microscopy using the annular dark-field
imaging mode now routinely provides single-atom sensitivity
with atomic number contrast. Here, this imaging mode is used
to directly image the platinum within the two drugs in their
dried form on an amorphous carbon support film. The oxaliplatin
is found to have wetted the supporting amorphous carbon,
forming disordered clusters suggesting that the platinum
has remained within the complex. Conversely, the cisplatin
sample reveals 1.8-nm-diameter metallic platinum clusters.
The size and shape of the clusters do not appear to be dependent
on drying rate nor formed by beam damage, which may
suggest that they were present in the original drug solution.

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