A Golden Opportunity for Drug Delivery

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This image, submitted by Erik Dreaden, explores how exotic materials can be used to deliver drugs on-demand using light-triggered devices fabricated from integrated polymer nanotechnologies.

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Erik Dreaden
Hammond Laboratory
Koch Institute

"Gold is best known for its inert reactivity and lustrous shine; nanoparticles of this precious metal, however, are much smaller than light waves and absorb, rather than reflect, rays of light. By chemically engineering gold nanoparticles of varying size and shape, MIT researchers can excite these particles using lasers which transmit through human tissue, allowing them to selectively transfer energy into tumors, interact with temperature-sensitive biological systems, or to trigger drug release from nanoscale delivery vehicles.

This image demonstrates our ability to precisely engineer a wide variety of gold nanostructures. Each color corresponds to a different size and shape roughly 5,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Do these colors look familiar? Jean de Chelles used particles like these give color and beauty to the stained glass windows at Notre Dame more than 700 years ago."