Non-toxic nanoparticle production process uses cinnamon


November 30, 2010

In a new non-toxic process, cinnamon has been used to render nanoparticles from gold salts (Photo: Sam Mugraby,

In a new non-toxic process, cinnamon has been used to render nanoparticles from gold salts (Photo: Sam Mugraby,

Gold nanoparticles, while showing great promise in fields such as electronics, medical imaging and cancer treatment, nonetheless involve a fairly environmentally-unfriendly production process. Typically, they are produced via liquid chemical methods that involve the use of various noxious substances, such as chlorauric acid. As the field of nanotechnology grows, so do concerns over the consequences for the Earth. University of Missouri scientist Kattesh Katti has found a new method for producing gold nanoparticles that does away with almost all of the toxic agents... and replaces them with cinnamon.

In the U Missouri method, nanoparticles were created by combining gold salts and cinnamon, and stirring them together in water. “Cinnamon has phytochemicals; these phytochemicals are effective in performing chemical reactions (referred to as chemical reduction) with gold salts,” Katti explained to Gizmag. “We have discovered that phytochemicals in cinnamon upon chemical reactions with gold salts result in the conversion of gold salt into gold nanoparticles.”

No electricity or toxic agents were required. As a side benefit, the phytochemicals can also be used to destroy or image cancer cells.

“The beauty of this uniquely green process is that there are no toxic chemicals nor trail of toxic waste involved in the entire process,” he added. “As the nanotechnology revolution unfolds, we must address the influence of this emerging technology on our environment. We believe that our green nanotechnology approach has an excellent futuristic value because our approach provides a realistic and sustainable symbiosis between nanotechnology and Mother Nature.”

In 2007, Katti developed another non-toxic gold nanoparticle production process, that involved mixing soybeans with gold salts and water. The water drew one type of phytochemical from the beans, which reduced the gold salts to nanoparticles. A second phytochemical, also from the beans, then caused the nanoparticles to stabilize, and not clump together with their neighbors.

The new research is soon to be published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Cool beans.


Does the process use real cinnamon, AKA Ceylon Cinnamon, latin name Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, or does it use Cinnamomum Cassia? There\'s quite a difference. The flavor of Zeylancium is more delicate but the aroma is much stronger than Cassia. Cassia has a lot more coumarin, which is mildly toxic to humans, particularly to the liver and kidneys.

Coumarin is highly toxic to rodents in unmodified form and is used as a precursor chemical in the production of Warfarin and other anticoagulant pesticides.

Coumarin is currently listed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) among \"Substances Generally Prohibited From Direct Addition or Use as Human Food\", according to 21 CFR 189.130

Non-toxic? Not quite as non-toxic if the process uses Cassia instead of Zeylancium!

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The next question is: scalability?

Brutal McKillins

We are getting closer to creating models that can tell us about harmful effects without having to run all these tests -

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