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Keywords:

  • gold;
  • superparamagnetism;
  • hybrid;
  • core–shell nanoparticles;
  • photothermal ablation;
  • breast cancer cells;
  • hyperspectral imaging

Tumor ablation by thermal energy via the irradiation of plasmonic nanoparticles is a relatively new oncology treatment. Hybrid plasmonic-superparamagnetic nanoaggregates (50–100 nm in diameter) consisting of SiO2-coated Fe2O3 and Au (≈30 nm) nanoparticles were fabricated using scalable flame aerosol technology. By finely tuning the Au interparticle distance using the SiO2 film thickness (or content), the plasmonic coupling of Au nanoparticles can be finely controlled bringing their optical absorption to the near-IR that is most important for human tissue transmittance. The SiO2 shell facilitates also dispersion and prevents the reshaping or coalescence of Au particles during laser irradiation, thereby allowing their use in multiple treatments. These nanoaggregates have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capability as shown by measuring their r2 relaxivity while their effectiveness as photothermal agents is demonstrated by killing human breast cancer cells with a short, four minute near-IR laser irradiation (785 nm) at low flux (4.9 W cm-2).