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Zapped by laser, nanobubbles kill cancer

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Activated by a pulse of laser light, nanobubbles can kill diseased cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.

Plasmonic nanobubbles that are 10,000 times smaller than a human hair cause tiny explosions. The bubbles form around plasmonic gold nanoparticles that heat up when excited by an outside energy source—in this case, a short laser pulse—and vaporize a thin layer of liquid near the particle’s surface. The vapor bubble quickly expands and collapses.

Researchers at Rice University had already found that plasmonic nanobubbles kill cancer cells by literally exploding them without damage to healthy neighbors, a process that showed much higher precision and selectivity compared with those mediated by gold nanoparticles alone.

Their new project takes that remarkable ability a few steps further.

Full story at Futurity.

More research news from top universities.

Photo credit: Plasmonic Nanobubble Lab/Rice University

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