Understanding the photothermal heating effect in non-lamellar liquid crystalline systems, and the design of new mixed lipid systems for photothermal on-demand drug delivery†
Lipid-based liquid crystalline systems are showing potential as stimuli-responsive nanomaterials, and NIR-responsive gold nanoparticles have been demonstrated to provide control of transitions in non-lamellar phases. In this study, we focus on a deeper understanding of the photothermal response of both lamellar and non-lamellar phases, and new systems formed by alternative lipid systems not previously reported, by linking the photothermal heating to the bulk thermal properties of the materials. Dynamic photothermal studies were performed using NIR laser irradiation and monitoring the structural response using time resolved small angle X-ray scattering for the bulk phases and hexosomes. In addition, cryoFESEM and cryoTEM were used to visualise and assess the effect of GNR incorporation into hexagonal phase nanostructures. The ability of the systems to respond to photothermal heating was correlated with the thermal phase behaviour and heat capacities of the different structures. Access to alternative phase transitions in these systems and understanding the likely photothermal response will facilitate different modes of application of these hybrid nanomaterials for on-demand drug delivery applications.