Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nancy Bigley (Committee Member), David Cool (Committee Co-Chair), Saber Hussain (Committee Co-Chair), Sharmila Mukhopadhyay (Committee Member), Courtney Sulentic (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Gold nanorods (GNRs) due to their tunable optical properties within the near infrared (NIR) region have been identified as strong candidates for new nano-based biomedical applications. Unfortunately, many have reported GNR cytotoxicity and it is still unclear how GNR aspect ratio (AR), surface charge and surface chemistry contribute to cellular association and cytotoxicity. GNR surface chemistry modifications have been reported to reduce cytotoxicity, however they can result in poor cellular uptake and loss of NIR optical properties preventing efficiency with bio-imaging and photo-thermal applications. The aim of this study was to determine if manipulation of GNR physicochemical properties could enhance biocompatibility while maintaining cellular uptake and preserving NIR optical properties for bio-imaging and plasmonic photo therapeutic applications. This study showed that surface chemistry is primarily responsible for cytotoxicity and cellular association of GNRs. In addition, tannic acid (TA) coated 11-mercaptoundecyl trimethylammonium bromide (MTAB) GNRs (MTAB-TA) displayed enhanced biocompatibility while maintaining high cellular uptake with preserved NIR optical properties, in vitro. Finally, MTAB-TA GNRs demonstrated significantly greater two photon luminescence microscopy image intensity and photo-thermal cellular ablation compared to bare MTAB GNRs. These findings identify MTAB-TA GNRs as prime candidates for use in nano-based bio-imaging and photo-thermal applications.

Page Count


Department or Program

Biomedical Sciences

Year Degree Awarded