Theranostics 2013; 3(9):677-686. doi:10.7150/thno.6535

Research Paper

Surface Passivation of Carbon Nanoparticles with Branched Macromolecules Influences Near Infrared Bioimaging

Lina Wu 1, 2*, Micah Luderer 1*, Xiaoxia Yang 1, Corban Swain 1, Huiying Zhang 1, Kate Nelson 3, Allen J. Stacy 1, Baozhong Shen 2✉, Gregory M. Lanza1, Dipanjan Pan1✉

1. Division of Cardiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 4320 Forest Park Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108, USA.
2. Key Laboratory of Molecular Imaging in College of Heilongjiang Province, Department of Radiology, the 4th Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150001, China.
3. Nano Research Facility (NNIN-NSF), Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
* Authors equal contribution

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Wu L, Luderer M, Yang X, Swain C, Zhang H, Nelson K, Stacy AJ, Shen B, Lanza GM, Pan D. Surface Passivation of Carbon Nanoparticles with Branched Macromolecules Influences Near Infrared Bioimaging. Theranostics 2013; 3(9):677-686. doi:10.7150/thno.6535. Available from

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A superior and commercially exploitable 'green synthesis' of optically active carbon nanoparticle (OCN) is revealed in this work. The naked carbon particles (<20 nm) were derived from commercial food grade honey. The fluorescence properties of these particles were significantly enhanced by utilizing hyberbranched polymer for surface passivation. A dramatic increase in near infrared emission was achieved compared to a linear polymer (PEG) coated carbon nanoparticles. Interestingly, as passivating agent becomes more extensively branched (pseudo generation 2 to 4), the average radiant efficiency amplifies considerably as a direct result of the increasing surface area available for light passivation. The particles showed negligible loss of cell viability in presence of endothelial cells in vitro. Preliminary in vivo experiment showed high contrast enhancement in auxiliary lymphnode in a mouse model. The exceptionally rapid lymphatic transport of these particles suggests that such an approach may offer greater convenience and reduced procedural expense, as well as improved surgical advantage as the patient is positioned on the table for easier resection.

Keywords: Carbon nanoparticle, hyperbranched polymer, near infrared imaging, contrast agent, surface passivation.