Production and characterization of aluminium oxide nanoshells on spray dried lactose

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Atomic layer deposition (ALD) enables deposition of dense nanometer thick metal oxide nanoshells on powder particles with precise thickness control. This leads to products with low weight fraction coating, also when depositing on nano- or micron sized powder particles. This study aimed at investigating the aluminium oxide nanoshell thickness required to prevent moisture sorption. The nanoshells were produced with ALD on spray-dried lactose, which is amorphous and extremely hygroscopic. The particles were studied with dynamic vapor sorption between 0 and 50% RH, light scattering, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, and polarized light microscopy. The ALD did not induce any recrystallization of the amorphous lactose. The dynamic vapor sorption indicated that the moisture sorption was almost completely inhibited by the nanoshell. Neat amorphous lactose rapidly recrystallized upon moisture exposure. However, only ca. 15% of the amorphous lactose particles recrystallized of a sample with 9% (by weight) aluminium oxide nanoshell at storage for six months upon 75% RH/40 °C, which indicate that the moisture sorption was completely inhibited in the majority of the particles. In conclusion, the aluminium oxide nanoshells prevented moisture sorption and dramatically improved the long term physical stability of amorphous lactose. This shows the potential of the ALD-technique to protect drug microparticles.

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