NUCRYST's platform nanotechnology is based on materials that on conversion to nanoscale exhibit different physical properties from bulk silver or other noble metals. NUCRYST scientists accomplish this using a process called reactive magnetron sputtering, which is a form of physical vapor deposition.
In a vacuum chamber, pure silver is bombarded with positive ions to liberate or sputter individual atoms. The silver atoms are activated by an entity known as a plasma, often referred to as a fourth state of matter. These silver atoms are then re-condensed to form new high-energy nanocrystalline structures on substrates - such as high-density polyethylene for non adherent wound care dressings. NUCRYST has also developed proprietary methods to produce free-standing nanocrystalline powders.
Silver is the first noble metal being targeted by NUCRYST for the application of the nanocrystalline technology. Conventional silver is composed of large crystals, usually micro-crystallites (1 or 2 microns). These micro-crystallites dissolve slowly, thereby limiting the available silver. By contrast, the silver used in NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals' existing medical devices and emerging pharmaceutical product line is made up of much smaller crystals of silver (between 1 and 100 nanometers).
Compared to bulk material silver, NUCRYST’s silver in nanocrystalline form is in a higher energy state and exhibits enhanced solubility. Acticoat™ antimicrobial barrier dressings with SILCRYST™ nanocrystals represent the first application of NUCRYST's platform technology. The second application of this platform technology is NPI 32101 in a cream formulation, which is in clinical development to treat atopic dermatitis.