Theranostics 2018; 8(4):1005-1026. doi:10.7150/thno.22573 This issue


Black Phosphorus and its Biomedical Applications

Jane Ru Choi1*✉, Kar Wey Yong2*, Jean Yu Choi3, Azadeh Nilghaz1, Yang Lin4, Jie Xu4, Xiaonan Lu1✉

1. Food, Nutrition and Health Programs, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada;
2. Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada;
3. School of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 9SY, United Kingdom;
4. Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA.
* Both authors contributed equally to this work.

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.
Choi JR, Yong KW, Choi JY, Nilghaz A, Lin Y, Xu J, Lu X. Black Phosphorus and its Biomedical Applications. Theranostics 2018; 8(4):1005-1026. doi:10.7150/thno.22573. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Black phosphorus (BP), also known as phosphorene, has attracted recent scientific attention since its first successful exfoliation in 2014 owing to its unique structure and properties. In particular, its exceptional attributes, such as the excellent optical and mechanical properties, electrical conductivity and electron-transfer capacity, contribute to its increasing demand as an alternative to graphene-based materials in biomedical applications. Although the outlook of this material seems promising, its practical applications are still highly challenging. In this review article, we discuss the unique properties of BP, which make it a potential platform for biomedical applications compared to other 2D materials, including graphene, molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), tungsten diselenide (WSe2) and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN). We then introduce various synthesis methods of BP and review its latest progress in biomedical applications, such as biosensing, drug delivery, photoacoustic imaging and cancer therapies (i.e., photothermal and photodynamic therapies). Lastly, the existing challenges and future perspective of BP in biomedical applications are briefly discussed.

Keywords: black phosphorus, biosensing, drug delivery, photoacoustic imaging, photothermal and photodynamic therapies.