Theranostics 2020; 10(5):2260-2272. doi:10.7150/thno.41317 This issue

Research Paper

Nanococktail Based on AIEgens and Semiconducting Polymers: A Single Laser Excited Image-Guided Dual Photothermal Therapy

Zi Long1*, Jun Dai2*, Qinyu Hu1, Quan Wang1, Shijie Zhen4, Zujin Zhao4, Zitong Liu3, Jing-Jing Hu1, Xiaoding Lou1✉, Fan Xia1

1. Engineering Research Center of Nano-Geomaterials of Ministry of Education, Faculty of Materials Science and Chemistry, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China.
2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China.
3. Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Organic Solids Laboratory, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
4. State Key Laboratory of Luminescent Materials and Devices, Center for Aggregation-Induced Emission, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Long Z, Dai J, Hu Q, Wang Q, Zhen S, Zhao Z, Liu Z, Hu JJ, Lou X, Xia F. Nanococktail Based on AIEgens and Semiconducting Polymers: A Single Laser Excited Image-Guided Dual Photothermal Therapy. Theranostics 2020; 10(5):2260-2272. doi:10.7150/thno.41317. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Semiconducting polymers (SPs)-based dual photothermal therapy (PTT) obtained better therapeutic effect than single PTT due to its higher photothermal conversion efficiency. However, most dual PTT need to use two lasers for heat generation, which brings about inconvenience and limitation to the experimental operations. Herein, we report the development of “nanococktail” nanomaterials (DTPR) with 808 nm-activated image-guided dual photothermal properties for optimized cancer therapy.

Methods: In this work, we co-encapsulated AIEgens (TPA-BDTO, T) and SPs (PDPPP, P) by using maleimide terminated amphiphilic polymer (DSPE-PEG2000-Mal, D), then further conjugated the targeting ligands (RGD, R) through “click” reaction. Finally, such dual PTT nanococktail (termed as DTPR) was constructed.

Results: Once DTPR upon irradiation with 808 nm laser, near-infrared fluorescence from T could be partially converted into thermal energy through fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between T and P, coupling with the original heat energy generated by the photothermal agent P itself, thus resulting in image-guided dual PTT. The photothermal conversion efficiency of DTPR reached 60.3% (dual PTT), much higher as compared to its inherent photothermal effect of only 31.5% (single PTT), which was further proved by the more severe photothermal ablation in vitro and in vivo upon 808 nm laser irradiation.

Conclusion: Such smart “nanococktail” nanomaterials could be recognized as a promising photothermal nanotheranostics for image-guided cancer treatment.

Keywords: A single laser, semiconducting polymers, aggregation-induced emission fluorogens, fluorescence resonance energy transfer, dual photothermal therapy