In November of last year, scientists at North Carolina State University developed a technique that gave them better control and efficiency when creating gold nanorods. These infinitesimal structures are usually created by mixing chemical solutions together. However, the old process could only convert about 30% of the gold used into actual nanorods. But, by adding ascorbic acid to the chemical mixture, scientists were able to convert the remaining 70% of gold into nanorods. Additionally, by altering the rate at which the ascorbic acid is added to the mixture, the researchers were able to control the relative height and width on the nanorods in the batch.
Gold nanoparticles are used in an experimental cancer treatment known as “AuroLase Therapy,” during which gold nanoparticles are injected into a patient, use chemical signatures to target tumors, and are then exposed to infrared light. The IR light has no effect on tissues or organs, but it causes the gold nanoparticles to rapidly produce heat. Since they are attached to the tumor, the thermal activity destroys the tumor without requiring invasive procedures.
AuroLase Therapy is still being tested. But, now that gold nanoparticles are easier to create, perhaps it and other nano-therapies will be available in the very near future.