Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have unique near-infrared absorption and photoemission properties that are attractive for in vivo biological applications such as photothermal cancer treatment and bioimaging. Therefore, a smart functionalization strategy for SWNTs to create biocompatible surfaces and introduce various ligands to target active cancer cells without losing the unique optical properties of the SWNTs is strongly desired. This paper reports the design and synthesis of a SWNT/gel hybrid containing maleimide groups, which react with various thiol compounds through Michael addition reactions. In this hybrid, the method called carbon nanotube micelle polymerization was used to noncovalently modify the surface of SWNTs with a cross-linked polymer gel layer. This method can form an extremely stable gel layer on SWNTs; such stability is essential for in vivo biological applications. The monomer used to form the gel layer contained a maleimide group, which was protected with furan in endo-form. The resulting hybrid was treated in water to induce deprotection via a retro-Diels-Alder reaction and then functionalized with thiol compounds through Michael addition. The functionalization of the hybrid was explored using a thiol-containing fluorescent dye as a model thiol, and the formation of the SWNT-dye conjugate was confirmed by energy transfer from the dye to SWNTs. Our strategy offers a promising SWNT-based platform for biological functionalization for cancer targeting, imaging, and treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry