ACS biomaterials science & engineering

Water-Dispersible Silica-Coated Upconverting Liposomes: Can a Thin Silica Layer Protect TTA-UC against Oxygen Quenching?

PMID 28317022


Light upconversion by triplet-triplet annihilation (TTA-UC) in nanoparticles has received considerable attention for bioimaging and light activation of prodrugs. However, the mechanism of TTA-UC is inherently sensitive for quenching by molecular oxygen. A potential oxygen protection strategy is the coating of TTA-UC nanoparticles with a layer of oxygen-impermeable material. In this work, we explore if (organo)silica can fulfill this protecting role. Three synthesis routes are described for preparing water-dispersible (organo)silica-coated red-to-blue upconverting liposomes. Their upconversion properties are investigated in solution and in A549 lung carcinoma cells. Although it was found that the silica offered no protection from oxygen in solution and after uptake in A549 cancer cells, upon drying of the silica-coated liposome dispersion in an excess of (organo)silica precursor, interesting liposome-silica nanocomposite materials were obtained that were capable of generating blue light upon red light excitation in air.