Understanding Resonant Light-Triggered DNA Release from Plasmonic Nanoparticles

Amanda M. Goodman, Nathaniel J. Hogan, Samuel Gottheim, Carrie Li, Susan E Clare, Naomi J. Halas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Nanoparticle-based platforms for gene therapy and drug delivery are gaining popularity for cancer treatment. To improve therapeutic selectivity, one important strategy is to remotely trigger the release of a therapeutic cargo from a specially designed gene- or drug-laden near-infrared (NIR) absorbing gold nanoparticle complex with NIR light. While there have been multiple demonstrations of NIR nanoparticle-based release platforms, our understanding of how light-triggered release works in such complexes is still limited. Here, we investigate the specific mechanisms of DNA release from plasmonic nanoparticle complexes using continuous wave (CW) and femtosecond pulsed lasers. We find that the characteristics of nanoparticle-based DNA release vary profoundly from the same nanoparticle complex, depending on the type of laser excitation. CW laser illumination drives the photothermal release of dehybridized single-stranded DNA, while pulsed-laser excitation results in double-stranded DNA release by cleavage of the Au-S bond, with negligible local heating. This dramatic difference in DNA release from the same DNA-nanoparticle complex has very important implications in the development of NIR-triggered gene or drug delivery nanocomplexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2017


  • DNA
  • laser
  • nanoshells
  • oligonucleotide
  • photothermal heating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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