Self-assembled plasmonic vesicles of amphiphilic gold nanocrystals for traceable drug delivery
Date of Issue2014
School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Research in this thesis developed a new class of plasmonic vesicular nanostructures assembled from amphiphilic gold nanocrystals (nanoparticles and nanorods) coated with mixed hydrophilic and hydrophobic polymer brushes. The integration of gold nanocrystals with two types of chemically distinct polymer grafts, which are analogous to block copolymers as a whole, creates a new type of hybrid building blocks inheriting the amphiphilicity-driven self-assembly of block copolymers to form vesicular structures. The disruption of the plasmonic vesicles can be triggered by stimuli mechanisms inherent to either of the polymer or the nanocrystal. To fulfill the different requirements of drug delivery, three types of plasmonic vesicles were prepared by using amphiphilic gold nanocrystals with pH responsive, photo-active and biodegradable polymers as hydrophobic brush, respectively, while the hydrophilic brush was maintained as poly(ethylene glycol) PEG. These plasmonic vesicles with hollow cavity can play multifunctional roles as traceable delivery carriers for anticancer drugs and plasmonic imaging probes to specifically label targeted cancer cells and trace intracellular drug delivery. Furthermore, integration of photothermal effect of gold nanorods and large loading capacity of the vesicles provides opportunities for localized synergistic photothermal ablation and photo-activated chemotherapy, which have shown higher efficiency in killing targeted cancer cells than either single therapeutic modality.