A group of researchers in the laboratories of the Center for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (CEDENNA) are working on producing a hydrogel of imogolite, a material that contains up to 99% water and facilitates nutrient transport that favor penetration of the skin.
Only a few laboratories in the world are dedicated to producing imogolite, a nanocomposite capable of containing 99.5 percent water, which has been converted by the Center for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology into a very promising hydrogel for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries because of its nutrient transport characteristics.
Nicolás Arancibia is a doctor of chemistry that for almost a decade has specialized in synthesizing imogolite following research stays in France, where imogolite is used by cosmetic laboratories owing to its hydrating characteristics. The researcher explained that this material has the capacity of retaining a lot of water, and if a type of active principle is added, it can attenuate wrinkles in the skin. When in contact with skin, the hydrogel developed by Chilean scientists is rapidly absorbed, hydrating a large area with only a small quantity of the product.
Imogolite is also found in a natural state in volcanic soils, as are found in Chile, Ecuador, Italy and Japan. However, complex methods are required for gathering and purifying it. Imogolite nanotubes synthesized by CEDENNA’s chemists are very its natural counterpart, although its production is much less costly.
The pharmaceutical industry is also interested in this nanoparticle, which is similar to a tube measurable at the nanometric scale, that is to say, it has a diameter of a thousandth of a millimeter. The interest is not due to its hydrating traits, but also because it prevents the proliferation of bacteria.
Imogolite-based filters can also be used to removed contaminants from water.
Given the diameter of its pores, imogolite can retain toxic elements like arsenic, which is present mainly in northern Chile.
The Center for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary research center located at the University of Santiago. It involves more than 60 doctors from diverse universities throughout the country.