Dynamic visualization of photothermal heating by gold nanocages using thermoresponsive elastin like polypeptides
Understanding how plasmonic nanoparticles collectively generate heat upon exposure to light and thus increase the local temperature of the surrounding medium is critical for many applications such as plasmon-assisted microfluidics, plasmonic tweezers, and photothermal cancer therapy. Reliable temperature manipulation requires the capability to spatially and dynamically analyze local temperature profiles as a function of nanoparticle concentration and laser intensity. In this work, we present a novel method for visualization of local temperature increase using elastin-like polypeptides (ELP). We also propose a robust algorithm that allows the construction of reliable calibration curves using known boundary conditions and Boltzmann sigmoid fit applied to the ELP solution's temperature-absorption transfer function. Using this technique, for the first time, we successfully demonstrated how surface and volume distribution of the nano-heaters affect collective heat generation. This approach allows the visualization of dynamic 2D-temperature profiles and simultaneously enables the measurement of specific temperature at any point in a 2D-map. The experimental setup is compatible with conventional optical microscopy and requires no specialized hardware or complex sample preparation. Finally, the real time visualization of plasmonic heating offers an opportunity to control outcomes of thermo-plasmonics which enables a myriad of practical applications.