Bio-effects of gold nanorods as a function of aspect ratio and surface chemistry

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Chemical Engineering


Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering


Advisor: Donald A. Comfort


The study of gold nanoparticles is a high impact research topic due to the many applications being discovered for these materials. The perceived inertness of gold nanomaterials allows for many potential biomedical applications including cell imaging, cancer treatment, and gene and drug delivery. Gold nanorods (GNRs) are a type of nanomaterial with properties that may enhance some of these applications. Firstly, GNRs are larger than nanospheres and could allow for more binding events, increasing their utility as a delivery agent. Secondly, nanorods can have their plasmon resonance shifted into the near infrared region which is in the window of transparency of biological tissue (800-1100 nm). The absorption and scattering peak wavelengths can also be tuned by manipulating the aspect ratio (AR) (length/width) of the nanorod which would prove useful in bio-imaging applications. In this study AR 3 and AR 6 GNRs were synthesized and functionalized with surface chemistries including TAT, TAT HA2, Tannic Acid, and Chariot. These GNRs were well characterized and their bio-effects were examined to determine their interactions with HaCaT cells and their potential as delivery agents. It was found that all the GNRs used were biocompatible. Cellular uptake was dependent upon AR, with AR 6 having higher uptake than AR 3. Surface functionalization had an effect on cellular uptake and localization. Furthermore, GNRs AR 3 functionalized with tannic acid had a non-endosomal uptake mechanism making it ideal for delivery applications.


Gold Metallurgy, Gold Biocompatibility, Nanostructured materials Biocompatibility, Biomedical engineering; chemical engineering; nanorods; gold; surface chemistry; tannic acid; cellular uptake; delivery

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2012, author