Bioresorbable microdroplet lasers as injectable systems for transient thermal sensing and modulation

John A. Rogers*, Daniel Franklin, Tyler Ueltschi, Andrea Carlini, Shenglian Yao, Jonathan Reeder, Benjamin Richards, Richard P Van Duyne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Minimally invasive methods for temperature sensing and thermal modulation in living tissues have extensive applications in biological research and clinical care. As alternatives to bioelectronic devices for this purpose, functional nanomaterials that self-assemble into optically active microstructures offer important features in remote sensing, injectability, and compact size. This paper introduces a transient, or bioresorbable, system based on injectable slurries of well-defined microparticles that serve as photopumped lasers with temperature-sensitive emission wavelengths (>4-300 nm °C-1). The resulting platforms can act as tissue-embedded thermal sensors and, simultaneously, as distributed vehicles for thermal modulation. Each particle consists of a spherical resonator formed by self-organized cholesteric liquid crystal molecules doped with fluorophores as gain media, encapsulated in thin shells of soft hydrogels that offer adjustable rates of bioresorption through chemical modification. Detailed studies highlight fundamental aspects of these systems including particle sensitivity, lasing threshold, and size. Additional experiments explore functionality as photothermal agents with active temperature feedback (ΔT = 1 °C) and potential routes in remote evaluation of thermal transport properties. Cytotoxicity evaluations support their biocompatibility, and ex vivo demonstrations in Casper fish illustrate their ability to measure temperature within biological tissues with resolution of 0.01 °C. This collective set of results demonstrates a range of multifunctional capabilities in thermal sensing and modulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2327-2339
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021


  • Biodegradable
  • Imaging
  • Self-organization
  • Sensors
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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