Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Micro and Nanoscale Systems

First Advisor

Pedro Derosa


Encouraged by potential applications in rust coatings, self-healing composites, selective delivery of drugs, and catalysis, the transport of molecular species through Halloysite nanotubes (HNTs), specifically the storage and controlled release of these molecules, has attracted strong interest in recent years. HNTs are a naturally occurring biocompatible nanomaterial that are abundantly and readily available. They are alumosilicate based tubular clay nanotubes with an inner lumen of 15 nm and a length of 600-900 nm. The size of the inner lumen of HNTs may be adjusted by etching. The lumen can be loaded with functional agents like antioxidants, anticorrosion agents, flame-retardant agents, drugs, or proteins, allowing for a sustained release of these agents for hours. The release times can be further tuned for days and months by the addition of tube end-stoppers. In this work a three-dimensional, time-quantified Monte Carlo model that efficiently describes diffusion through and from nanotubes is implemented. Controlled delivery from Halloysite Nanotubes (HNT) is modeled based on interactions between the HNT's inner wall and the nanoparticles (NP) and among NPs themselves. The model was validated using experimental data published in the literature. The validated model is then used to study the effect of multiple parameters like HNT diameter and length, particle charge, ambient temperature and the creation of smart caps at the tube ends on the release of encapsulated NPs. The results show that release profiles depend on the size distribution of the HNT batch used for the experiment, as delivery is sensitive to HNT lumen and length. The effect of the addition of end-caps to the HNTs, on the rate of release of encapsulated NPs is also studied here. The results show that the release profiles are significantly affected by the addition of end caps to the HNTs and is sensitive to the end-cap pore lumen. A very good agreement with the experiment is observed when a weight averaged release profile is compared to the experimental profile. Although the NP dynamics is temperature dependent, the effect is minimum within the range of temperatures relevant to biomedical applications, but will be relevant for other applications at temperatures significantly different from room temperature. This model can be used to predict the best conditions for a particular delivery need. One of the possible outcomes of this work is the development of more complex models for HNT–NP interaction various materials used in bioanalytical devices. These models will then be introduced into continuum models of transport in such devices. This work will leverage interaction potential development efforts under the LA-SiGMA grant, to enable multi-scale simulations involving interactions between biomaterials for which such potentials are unknown.