Coating urchinlike gold nanoparticles with polypyrrole thin shells to produce photothermal agents with high stability and photothermal transduction efficiency

Jing Li, Jishu Han, Tianshu Xu, Changrun Guo, Xinyuan Bu, Hao Zhang, Liping Wang, Hongchen Sun, Bai Yang
Langmuir: the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids 2013 June 11, 29 (23): 7102-10
Photothermal therapy using inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) is a promising technique for the selective treatment of tumor cells because of their capability to convert the absorbed radiation into heat energy. Although anisotropic gold (Au) NPs present an excellent photothermal effect, the poor structural stability during storage and/or upon laser irradiation still limits their practical application as efficient photothermal agents. With the aim of improving the stability, in this work we adopted biocompatible polypyrrole (PPy) as the shell material for coating urchinlike Au NPs. The experimental results indicate that a several nanometer PPy shell is enough to maintain the structural stability of NPs. In comparison to the bare NPs, PPy-coated NPs exhibit improved structural stability toward storage, heat, pH, and laser irradiation. In addition, the thin shell of PPy also enhances the photothermal transduction efficiency (η) of PPy-coated Au NPs, resulting from the absorption of PPy in the red and near-infrared (NIR) regions. For example, the PPy-coated Au NPs with an Au core diameter of 120 nm and a PPy shell of 6.0 nm exhibit an η of 24.0% at 808 nm, which is much higher than that of bare Au NPs (η = 11.0%). As a primary attempt at photothermal therapy, the PPy-coated Au NPs with a 6.0 nm PPy shell exhibit an 80% death rate of Hela cells under 808 nm NIR laser irradiation.

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