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WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
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Biological applications of gold nanorods

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Abstract Gold nanoparticles have been used as an additive for aesthetic purposes for centuries. However, only in the last decade scientists have begun to understand the fundamental concepts that explain the fascinating optical properties nanoscale particles possess. Gold nanoparticles may be tuned to absorb and scatter light in the visible to near‐infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. These properties result from the collective oscillations of electrons along the metal surface and can be altered by changing the particles' shape, size, or environment. Gold nanoparticles having a rod‐like morphology are of particular interest because of their anisotropic shape. The absorption profile of gold nanorods includes two absorption bands: one due to light absorbed along the short axis (transverse) and the other due to absorption along the long axis (longitudinal). As the rod length increases, so does the longitudinal band red shift together with an increase in the extinction coefficient. As a result of this optical control and sensitivity to changes in local environment, gold nanorods are useful materials for sensing, photothermal therapy, and imaging. This article highlights established and emerging applications of gold nanorods as a platform for viable biological tools. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2011 3 100–109 DOI: 10.1002/wnan.120 This article is categorized under: Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology

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UV–vis overlay of gold nanorods showing plasmon band red shifts as rod lengths are increased from left to right.

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TEM micrograph of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells irradiated at 785 nm for 10 min. showing visible cell damage as indicated by arrows. Images were collected at 30,000× magnification. Scale bar equals 500 nm.

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Viability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells with attached gold nanorods following exposure to near‐infrared (NIR) light. Left panels: (a) Control cells without nanorods or NIR exposure; (b) Cells without nanorods exposed to NIR; (c) Cells with nanorods and no NIR exposure; (d) Cells with nanorods and exposed to NIR for 10 mins. Cells were stained with SYTO 9 and propidium iodide and imaged at 400× magnification using a fluorescence microscope. Green fluorescent cells are representative of live cells while red fluorescent cells are representative of dead or compromised cells.

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(Top left). Fluorescently stained cardiac fibroblasts; scale bar = 100 µm . Gold nanorods are present but are not visible by fluorescence. (Top right). In the same sample but imaged in darkfield optical microscopy, gold nanorods scatter orange‐yellow light. (Bottom left). Contour plot of horizontal strain εxx. (Bottom right). Contour plot of vertical strain εyy. The colored scale bar goes from compressive strain of −0.12 (purple) to tensile strain of 0.15 (red).

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Schematic outlining the bioconjugation of gold nanorods to antibodies via amide bond formation between free primary amines on the nanorod surface and carboxylic acids present on the antibodies.

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TEM micrograph of gold nanorods prepared in the presence of the growth direction agent CTAB (Scale bar = 100 nm ).

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