Developing surface enhanced raman spectroscopy and polymer hollow particles for sensing and medical imaging applications
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Early diagnosis of disease and developing targeted therapeutics are two major goals of medical research to which nanotechnology can contribute a variety of novel approaches and solutions. This work utilized an optical phenomenon specific to metallic nanoparticles, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), as a nanomedicine research tool to aid in the progression toward these goals. Single-particle SERS studies were streamlined to identify particles or aggregates with potentially high enhancement factors (EFs) for applications requiring ultrasensitive and possibly single-molecule detection. SERS was used to probe the changes in surface chemistry of nanoparticles for optimizing nanomedicine applications. Fundamental SERS imaging parameters were identified, and a new algorithm for multiplexed SERS imaging was developed and tested. Novel particle-based contrast agents were also developed. Polystyrene hollow beads with a single hole on the surface were fabricated and used to encapsulate contrast agents for a variety of medical imaging modalities. Saline was encapsulated as a novel contrast agent for thermoacoustic tomography (TAT). Encapsulation of X-ray computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was also performed and tested.