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Phys Med Biol. 2009 Sep 21;54(18):5541-60. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/54/18/013. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

Numerical investigation of heating of a gold nanoparticle and the surrounding microenvironment by nanosecond laser pulses for nanomedicine applications.

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Department of Radiology, the Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


We have modeled, by finite element analysis, the process of heating of a spherical gold nanoparticle by nanosecond laser pulses and of heat transfer between the particle and the surrounding medium, with no mass transfer. In our analysis, we have included thermal conductivity changes, vapor formation, and changes of the dielectric properties as a function of temperature. We have shown that such changes significantly affect the temperature reached by the particle and surrounding microenvironment and therefore the thermal and dielectric properties of the medium need to be known for a correct determination of the temperature elevation. We have shown that for sufficiently low intensity and long pulses, it is possible to establish a quasi-steady temperature profile in the medium with no vapor formation. As the intensity is increased, a phase-change with vapor formation takes place around the gold nanoparticle. As phase-transition starts, an additional increase in the intensity does not significantly increase the temperature of the gold nanoparticle and surrounding environment. The temperature starts to rise again above a given intensity threshold which is particle and environment dependent. The aim of this study is to provide useful insights for the development of molecular targeting of gold nanoparticles for applications such as remote drug release of therapeutics and photothermal cancer therapy.

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