Emerging advances in iron oxide nanoparticles exploit their high magnetization for various applications, such as bioseparation, hyperthermia, and magnetic resonance imaging. In contrast to their excellent magnetic performance, the harmonic generation and luminescence properties of iron oxide nanoparticles have not been thoroughly explored, thus limiting their development as a tool in photomedicine. In this work, a seed/growth-inspired synthesis is developed combined with primary mineralization and a ligand-assisted secondary growth strategy to prepare mesostructured α-FeOOH nanorods (NRs). The sub-wavelength heterogeneity of the refractive index leads to enhanced third-harmonic generation (THG) signals under near-infrared excited wavelengths at 1230 nm. The as-prepared NRs exhibit an 11-fold stronger THG intensity compared to bare α-FeOOH NRs. Using these unique nonlinear optical properties, it is demonstrated that mesostructured α-FeOOH NRs can serve as biocompatible and nonbleaching contrast agents in THG microscopy for long-term labeling of cells as well as in angiography in vivo by modifying lectin to enhance the binding efficiency to the glycocalyx layers on the wall of blood vessels. These results provide a new insight into Fe-based nanoplatforms capable of emitting coherent light as molecular probes in optical microscopy, thus establishing a complementary microscopic imaging method for macroscopic magnetic imaging systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)