Metal nanoshells are a new class of nanoparticles with highly tunable optical properties. Metal nanoshells consist of a dielectric core nanoparticle such as silica surrounded by an ultrathin metal shell, often composed of gold for biomedical applications. Depending on the size and composition of each layer of the nanoshell, particles can be designed to either absorb or scatter light over much of the visible and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including the near infrared region where penetration of light through tissue is maximal. These particles are also effective substrates for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and are easily conjugated to antibodies and other biomolecules. One can envision a myriad of potential applications of such tunable particles. Several potential biomedical applications are under development, including immunoassays, modulated drug delivery, photothermal cancer therapy, and imaging contrast agents.
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