Engineering Bright and Biocompatible Upconverting Nanoparticles for Biomedical Application

Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Amol D. Punjabi, Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Northborough, MA
Fluorescent imaging is a robust tool for visualizing cellular biochemistry. However, dyes photodegrade and are not used for whole-body imaging because their UV/Vis-excitation cannot penetrate into deep tissue and can be carcinogenic. I designed novel “upconverting” nanoparticles for fluorescent imaging that are excited by harmless and deep-penetrating infrared light. They are biocompatible and are 15-times brighter than the current standard. Since these were readily applicable to imaging, I extended their application to light-triggered cancer therapy, demonstrating 60% cell killing in deep tumors. This invention has additional applications in biosensing, solar cells, and optogenetics.