Shape tunable gallium nanorods mediated tumor enhanced ablation through near-infrared photothermal therapy†
To date, photothermal sensitizers include organic and inorganic nanomaterials for biomedical applications. However, the impediments of low biodegradability and potential toxicity hinder their further applications in clinics. Liquid metal nanospheres show superior photothermal effects under near-infrared laser irradiation, in addition, a transformation in shape can be triggered, which also promotes biodegradability that helps to avoid potential systemic toxicity. Here, we fabricated tunable liquid metal nanoparticles having sphere-shaped to rod-shaped characteristics, resulting in good biocompatibility, favorable photothermal conversion efficiency, and targeting capability to tumors. The synthesis strategy is easy to achieve through one-step sonication. We systematically evaluated the photothermal properties of these liquid metal nanoparticles as well as their destructive effects on tumors in a quantitative way both in vitro and in vivo under laser exposure. Results have shown for the first time in mice that gallium nanorods, regulated and controlled through the production of GaO(OH), displayed outstanding photothermal conversion efficiency and exhibited distinct temperature elevation compared to gallium nanospheres and gallium-indium alloy nanorods. These shape transformable and biocompatible gallium nanorods establish the basis for the future laser ablation of tumors to achieve enhanced therapeutic outcomes. This shape tunability of a smart nano-liquid metal directly contributes to enhanced photothermal therapy in mice and opens new opportunities for potential applications with tumor therapy and imaging.