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Publication Date

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical, Chemical & Materials Engineering


Melanie McNeil

Subject Areas

Chemical engineering


Gold nanoshells can be designed to possess high light scattering and strong absorption of near-infrared light. Thus, they have the potential to be used in biological applications as contrast agents for diagnostic imaging as well as for thermal ablation of tumor cells in future cancer treatments. In this study, gold nanoshells with dye-loaded star polymer cores were investigated. Uniform near-infrared gold nanoshells with 100 nm diameters were successfully generated using different batches of star polymer templates and were characterized by UV-visible spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The star polymers used were block copolymer structures with a hydrophobic polystyrene (PS) core and a hydrophilic poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethylmethracrylate) (DMAEMA) outer shell. Within this work, a general procedure was established in order to achieve a desired gold nanoshell size regardless of the star polymer batch used, since the synthesis process conditions can cause star polymers to vary in size as well in the number and length of amino-functionalized arms. Control of the gold nanoshell diameter was optimized after an in-depth analysis of the synthesis parameters that affected the formation and final size of the dye-loaded star polymer gold nanoshells. The main parameters examined were pH of the gold seeds used to nucleate the templates and the ratio of star polymer to gold hydroxide used during the growth of the outer gold shell.