Bismuth trapped in nanotubes for CT scans

Published Date: Feb 2015

Bismuth refers to a chemical element having the highest atomic mass, which is stable. Though it was learnt in 2003 that the element is slightly radioactive. Bismuth metals are often referred to be same as tin and lead due to some of the same physical properties. Also, bismuth compounds offer a variety of uses for medicinal and personal care purposes. Bismuth compound holds almost half of the share from the overall production of bismuth.

Bismuth finds its application across a wide range of industries including pharmaceuticals, metals & alloys and cosmetics. In the medicinal field, bismuth is used for treating various medical conditions such as gastro-intestinal diseases, traveler's diarrhea, peptic ulcers, eye infections, syphilis and malodor from feces and flatulence (gas).

Bismuth compounds are well known for its application in cosmetics and pigments. The compound is used as a pigment in hair sprays, nail polishes and paint for eye shadows. The compound is found in crystal forms and provides a similar iridescent appearance as the nacre of pearl, which makes it preferable for its use in cosmetics.

There have been various experiments and researches on the use of bismuth for CT scans, recently. As per new research study by the scientists at Rice University, bismuth can be used for tagging stem cells for X-ray tracking. Lon Wilson, Rice chemist and lead researcher, along with his team is working on trapping bismuth in single-walled carbon nanotubes in order to make effective and better contrast agent for its use in computed tomography (CT) scanners.

Bismuth has been thought of before as a CT contrast agent, but putting it in nanotube capsules allows us to get them inside cells in high concentrations, Wilson said. That lets us take an X-ray image of the cell.

This is not the first time bismuth has been tested for CT scans, and Wilson's lab has been experimenting for years with nanotube-based contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. But this is the first time anyone has combined bismuth with nanotubes to image individual cells, he said. At some point, we realized no one has ever tracked stem cells, or any other cells that we can find, by CT. CT is much faster, cheaper and more convenient, and the instrumentation is much more widespread (than MRI). So we thought if we put bismuth inside the nanotubes and the nanotubes inside stem cells, we might be able to track them in vivo in real time, Wilson added.

Prof Research reports adds a report titled Global and Chinese Bismuth Industry, 2009-2019 Market Research Report. The report provides a detailed analysis of the global market and provides incisive information on the latest market trends and various factors influencing the growth of the market.

Bismuth finds numerous application in the medical field and other sectors, propelling the usage and demand for the bismuth in various regional as well as global market. As per a recent study bismuth market production across the globe has been accumulated to 20,000 tonnes annually. With 60% of the bismuth world reserves in the country, China accounts for 80% of the total world production of bismuth every year.

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