Chenbo Dong

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Industrial and Managements Systems Engineering

Committee Chair

Cerasela Zoica Dinu

Committee Co-Chair

Cerasela Zoica Dinu

Committee Member

David Klinke

Committee Member

Yon Rojanasakul

Committee Member

Charter Stinespring

Committee Member

Nianqiang Wu


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are used for a variety of applications from nanocircuits, to hydrogen storage devices, and from designing optical fibers to forming conductive plastics. Recently, their functionalization with biomolecules led to exciting biological and biomedical applications in drug delivery or bioimaging. However, because of CNTs interactions with biological systems and their ability to translocate and persist into the circulatory and lymphatic systems and biological tissues, concerns about CNTs intrinsic toxicity have risen. It is thus necessary to develop and implement sensitive analysis technologies that allow investigation of CNTs toxicity upon uptake into a biological system.;This thesis provides a comprehensive guide of experiments that have been performed during my Ph.D. tenure at West Virginia University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, in the group of Prof. Cerasela Zoica Dinu. Briefly:;Chapter one presents a systematic study of the CNTs physical and chemical properties and how these properties are changed upon exposure to chemical agents normally used during their cleaning and purification processes. Also, this chapter shows how acid oxidation treatment leads to improved CNTs biocompatibility. Specifically, by incubating CNTs in a strong acid mixture we created a user-defined library of CNTs samples with different characteristics as recorded using Raman energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, or solubility tests. Systematically characterized CNTs were subsequently tested for their biocompatibility in relation to human epithelial cells or enzymes. Such selected examples are building pertinent relationships between CNTs biocompatibility and their intrinsic properties by showing that acid oxidation treatment lowers CNTs toxicity making CNTs feasible platforms to be used for biomedical applications or the next generation of biosensors. (Publication: Chenbo Dong, Alan S Campell, Reem Eldawud, Gabriela Perhinschi, and Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Effects of acid treatment on structure, properties and biocompatibility of carbon nanotubes, Applied Surface Science, 2013, 268, 261-268.).;Chapter two shows how exposure to CNTs changes the biomechanical properties of fixed human lung epithelial cells (BEAS-2B cells). Specifically, by using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) nanoindentation technology, we demonstrated that cellular exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) for 24h induces significant changes in cellular biomechanics leading to increased cellular stiffness. The MWCNTs incubation also seemed to alter the surface area of the cells. Consequently, measures of the mechanical properties of the exposed cell could be used as indicators of its biological state and could offer valuable insights into the mechanisms associated with CNTs-induced genetic instability. (Publication: Chenbo Dong, Linda Sargent, Michael L Kashon, David Lowry, Jonathan S. Dordick, Steven H. Reynolds, Yon Rojanasakul and Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Expose to carbon nanotubes leads to change in cellular biomechanics, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2013, 7, 945-951.).;Chapter three links together the MWCNTs exposure duration, internalization and induced biomechanical changes in fixed cells. Our findings indicated that changes in biomechanical properties of the fixed cells are a function of the uptake and internalization of the MWCNTs as well as their uptake time. Specifically, short exposure time did not seem to lead to considerable changes in the elastic properties in the cellular system. However, longer cellular exposure to CNTs leads to a higher uptake and internalization of the nanotubes and a larger effect on the cell mechanics. Such changes could be related to CNTs interactions with cellular elements and could bring information on the CNT intrinsic toxicity.;Chapter four talks about the potential of purified forms of CNTs with increased hydrophilicity to affect live human lung epithelial cells when used at occupational relevant exposure doses for particles not otherwise regulated. Specifically, our results showed that exposure to MWCNTs affects the dynamics and the biomechanical properties of live cells by reducing the activity of the mitochondria and inducing cell cycle arrest. Our analysis emphasized that cellular toxicity observed upon exposure to MWCNTs is a synergism resulting from multiple types of interactions that could be analyzed by means of intracellular mechanical changes.;This thesis contains Appendices of additional projects/publications for which I served as the first author:;(1) Chenbo Dong, and Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Molecular trucks and complementary tracks for bionanotechnological applications, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 2013, 24, 612-619.;(2) Chenbo Dong, Zijie Yan, Jacklyn Kokx, Douglas B. Chrisey and Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Antibacterial and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) activities of AgCl cubes synthesized by pulsed laser ablation in liquid, Applied Surface Science, 2012, 258(10), 9218-9222.