Photothermal Cancer Therapy

Project Summary

Despite decades of research and development into small molecule pharmaceuticals and advanced surgical methods, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in industrialized societies. Nanoscale materials are known to exhibit a range of unique physical and chemical properties such as tunable sizes, high surface areas (~1000 m2/g), biocompatibility, singlet oxygen generation, and large optical absorption coefficients that have led many researchers across the globe to consider them in next-generation clinical trials. Hybrid nanomaterials, including gold-polymer structures, have also shown the ability to release a payload of chemotherapeutic small molecules due to a volumetric contraction following photothermal heating.

The purpose of this paper was to discuss photothermal heating fundamentals for several distinct material platforms with which I had conducted research. The fundamental physical mechanisms behind photothermal heating are discussed, followed by recent results from in vitro or in vivo trials reported in literature. Synergistic applications between photothermal heating and other diagnostic or therapeutic capabilities are also highlighted to provide a sense of contemporary cutting edge multimodal theranostic potential for these engineered nanomaterials.


  1. Smith B, Roder P, et al. “Nanoscale Materials for Hyperthermal Theranostics.Nanoscale. 7 (16), 7115-7126, (2015).

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