Liposome-Tethered Gold Nanoparticles Triggered by Pulsed NIR Light for Rapid Liposome Contents Release and Endosome Escape

Anisha Veeren, Maria O Ogunyankin Marquez, Jeong Eun Shin, Joseph A. Zasadzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Remote triggering of contents release with micron spatial and sub-second temporal resolution has been a long-time goal of medical and technical applications of liposomes. Liposomes can sequester a variety of bioactive water-soluble ions, ligands and enzymes, and oligonucleotides. The bilayer that separates the liposome interior from the exterior solution provides a physical barrier to contents release and degradation. Tethering plasmon-resonant, hollow gold nanoshells to the liposomes, or growing gold nanoparticles directly on the liposome exterior, allows liposome contents to be released by nanosecond or shorter pulses of near-infrared light (NIR). Gold nanoshells or nanoparticles strongly adsorb NIR light; cells, tissues, and physiological media are transparent to NIR, allowing penetration depths of millimeters to centimeters. Nano to picosecond pulses of NIR light rapidly heat the gold nanoshells, inducing the formation of vapor nanobubbles, similar to cavitation bubbles. The collapse of the nanobubbles generates mechanical forces that rupture bilayer membranes to rapidly release liposome contents at the preferred location and time. Here, we review the syntheses, characterization, and applications of liposomes coupled to plasmon-resonant gold nanostructures for delivering a variety of biologically important contents in vitro and in vivo with sub-micron spatial control and sub-second temporal control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number701
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This project was supported in part by NIH Grant HL 51177, RMM 102516 007 from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPRIME), the Heltzer Chair in Multidisciplinary Science and Technology, and a grant from the Institute for Engineering in Medicine of the University of Minnesota. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • hollow gold nanoshell
  • nanobubble
  • picosecond laser pulses
  • plasmon-resonant


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