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Nat Nanotechnol. 2009 Oct;4(10):688-94. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2009.231. Epub 2009 Aug 23.

Golden carbon nanotubes as multimodal photoacoustic and photothermal high-contrast molecular agents.

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  • 1Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Institute for Nanoscale Materials Science and Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA.


Carbon nanotubes have shown promise as contrast agents for photoacoustic and photothermal imaging of tumours and infections because they offer high resolution and allow deep tissue imaging. However, in vivo applications have been limited by the relatively low absorption displayed by nanotubes at near-infrared wavelengths and concerns over toxicity. Here, we show that gold-plated carbon nanotubes-termed golden carbon nanotubes-can be used as photoacoustic and photothermal contrast agents with enhanced near-infrared contrast ( approximately 10(2)-fold) for targeting lymphatic vessels in mice using extremely low laser fluence levels of a few mJ cm(-2). Antibody-conjugated golden carbon nanotubes were used to map the lymphatic endothelial receptor, and preliminary in vitro viability tests show golden carbon nanotubes have minimal toxicity. This new nanomaterial could be an effective alternative to existing nanoparticles and fluorescent labels for non-invasive targeted imaging of molecular structures in vivo.

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