Lasers in Medical Science

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 615–628 | Cite as

Potentials and pitfalls of gold-silica nanoshell as the exogenous contrast agent for optical diagnosis of cancers: a numerical parametric study

Original Article


For nanoshell-assisted optical detection of cancers, gold shell, silica core (gold-silica) nanoshells are engineered to be the exogenous contrast agent. This work has performed systematic numerical parametric study to investigate the nonlinear dependences of the hemisphere diffuse reflectance on gold-silica nanoshells, laser irradiance, and hosting biology tissue. Planar phantom based tissue models have been constructed as platforms for study. The radiant transport equation (RTE) has been applied to mathematically describe the interactions among laser lights, hosting tissues, and hosted nanoshells. The diffuse reflectance signal under various combinations of parametric conditions has been computed and analyzed. Parametric parameters whose effects on the diffuse reflectance signal have been investigated are: (1) optical properties of a nanoshell generic, (2) nanoshell volume fraction, which is an indicator of nanoshell accumulation in the target tissue site, (3) the width of irradiating laser beam, and (4) thickness of the tissue slab. Seven nanoshell generics have been tested as the exogenous contrast agent including the R[50, 10] (radius of silica core is 50 nm and thickness of gold shell is 10 nm), R[55, 25], R[40, 15], R[40, 40], R[104, 23], R[75, 40] and R[154, 24] nanoshells. It has been found the R[55, 25] nanoshell works best as the exogenous contrast agent, the R[75, 40] and R[104, 23] nanoshells show good potentials as well while the R[50, 10] and R[40, 15] nanoshells should be avoided for diagnostic usage. The practice of neglecting the absorption characteristic of the exogenous contrast agent, which is quite common among the bio-nano community, has been proven to end up with an over-prediction of the effectiveness of the exogenous contrast agent. Such practice therefore is not well justified and should be avoided in future research. Interactions among laser lights, the tissue and nanoshells are highly nonlinear, demonstrated by that nanoshell generics with totally different optical properties might have similar effects on the diffuse reflectance signal and vice versa. Prior to any bench experiment, preliminary numerical investigation as this work has showcased is highly recommended.


Optical imaging Cancer detection Gold-silica nanoshell Lasers 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical and Electrical EngineeringGuilin University of Electronic TechnologyGuilinPeople’s Republic of China

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