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Porous Upconversion Nanostructures as Bimodal Biomedical Imaging Contrast Agents

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2020, 21:15 by Ziqing Du, Abhishek Gupta, Christian Clarke, Matt Cappadona, David Clases, Deming Liu, Zhuoqing Yang, Shawan Karan, William S. Price, Xiaoxue Xu
Lanthanide ion doped upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) hold great promise as multimodal contrast agents for a range of medical imaging techniques, including optical bioimaging (OBI), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT). However, it is challenging to obtain UCNPs with both maximal contrast enhancement effects for both OBI and MRI simultaneously owing to the dilemma in the size of UCNPs. UCNPs in large dimensions contain more photonic Ln ions and less surface defects, which is favored for high luminescent emissions, while small UCNPs with high specific surface areas allow a higher proportion of paramagnetic Ln ions to be more accessible to water molecules, which offers enhanced contrast in MRI. In this work, we report the novel design of core−porous shell UCNPs with both high luminescent emissions and magnetic relaxivities as potential dual-modal contrast agents. The core–porous shell UCNPs were fabricated via the selective etching of the inert shell of NaYF4: 30%Gd at the active core of NaYF4: 20%Yb, 1%Er. Their morphology and composition were carefully characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and high resolution TEM. Their photoluminescent and magnetic resonance properties were experimentally determined and compared for the core, core–dense shell, and core–porous shell UCNPs. Core–porous shell UCNPs were found to display bright luminescence and superior MRI contrast enhancement, thus showing great potential as bimodal OBI and MRI contrast agents.