Synthesis, Characterization, and Biomedical Application of Upconverting Lanthanoid Nanoparticles
AuthorGainer, Christian Forrest
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCancer currently represents one of the greatest burdens on human health in the world, claiming in excess of 7 million lives a year worldwide. Advances in both our understanding of the disease as well as our ability to diagnose it before it has had a chance to metastasize will lead to a reduction in its burden on society. To these ends, optical imaging techniques are particularly attractive. The ability to resolve cellular details noninvasively is paramount to improved cancer detection and to research on diseased tissue and cells. Lanthanoid nanoparticles, a group of photoluminescent contrast agents developed within the last two to three decades, have numerous unique optical properties that enable their use in improved and novel optical techniques. They possess large Stokes and anti-Stokes shifts, sharp electronic transitions, long luminescence lifetimes, and exceptional photostability. For these reasons, they are a good choice for biomedical applications that benefit from low background fluorescence or long illumination times. The major goal of the research presented in this dissertation was to synthesize functional lanthanoid nanoparticles for optical imaging modalities, and to explore their potential uses in a variety of biomedical applications. To this end, the research can be broken up into three specific aims. The first aim was to successfully and reproducibly synthesize downconverting and upconverting lanthanoid nanoparticles, and to functionalize these nanoparticles for use in optical techniques that would aid in the research and diagnosis of cancer. The second aim was to conduct a thorough investigation of the optical properties of these nanoparticles, and the third aim was to explore the utility of these nanoparticles in a variety of biomedical applications. First, both downconverting and upconverting lanthanoid nanoparticles were synthesized using several different methods, resulting in nanoparticles of varying size and surface functionality. Novel methods were employed to improve the utility of these nanoparticles for specific applications, including the incorporation of a mixed surface ligand population in downconverting lanthanoid nanoparticles and the use of a biomimetic surface coating to render upconverting nanoparticles water dispersible. These coated particles were further functionalized by the addition of folic acid and an antibody for epidermal growth factor receptor, both of which bind to cell surface receptors overexpressed in a number of cancers. Second, the spectral properties of lanthanoid nanoparticles were explored in detail, with special attention paid to many of the unique optical properties of upconverting lanthanoid nanoparticles. This included the discovery of one such unique property, the excitation frequency dependent emission of NaYF₄ nanocrystals codoped with Yb³⁺ and Er³⁺. Third, lanthanoid nanoparticles were used as contrast agents in a number of biomedical applications, including the development of a homogenous assay based on diffusion enhanced luminescence resonance energy transfer, a wide-field luminescence lifetime microscope, and a super resolution microscope based on the aforementioned excitation frequency dependent emission of NaYF₄:Yb³⁺,Er³⁺ nanoparticles. Specific binding of functionalized upconverting lanthanoid nanoparticles was investigated with laser scanning multiphoton microscopy, and an image processing technique was developed to overcome the challenge of working with long lived luminescent contrast agents using this imaging modality.
Degree ProgramGraduate College