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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • nanoparticles;
  • laser treatment;
  • denaturation;
  • thermal therapeutics;
  • heat transfer

An overview is presented of an approach for treating cancer that uses nanoparticles to deliver heat to diseased areas after absorbing energy from a laser of the appropriate wavelength. The implications are discussed of the relationship of parameters necessary to raise the temperature to therapeutically beneficial levels. Tight focusing is required for a continuous-wave laser to sufficiently heat individual nanoparticles because of heat loss to the surrounding fluid during the period of exposure. The natural thermal confinement of pulse lasers minimizes this effect because of the finite thermal diffusion time, which restricts the absorbed energy to a region around the particle, that offers the potential for achieving high temperatures that can promote phase change on the surface of a nanoparticle or even melting of the particle. A discussion of a way to potentially measure temperature on the scale of an individual nanoparticle is included based on using a single-walled nanotube (SWNT) of carbon as a thermistor. The challenges of this undertaking are that SWNTs do not always follow Ohm's law, they may exhibit metallic or semiconductor behavior with an often unpredictable result in manufacturing, and no two SWNTs behave identically, which necessitates calibration for each SWNT. Some results are presented that show the electrical characteristics of SWNTs and their potential for exploitation in this application.