Gold nanostructures, supporting so-called plasmon resonances, can be designed to act upon illumination as efficient point-like sources of either light or heat, opening plenty of new science and applications in biology and medicine. In this talk we discuss how both their optical and photothermal properties can be exploited to develop alternative, minimally invasive strategies for the detection and therapy of diseases including cancer.
The first part of this lecture focuses on the use of the intense and confined optical fields near gold nanostructures for on-a-chip biosensing. We show that gold antennas can be engineered as compact, cheap and highly sensitive sensors to detect low concentrations of biomarkers in tiny volumes of blood, with key applications to early diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
In the second part, we discuss the use of gold nanoparticles as remotely controlled point-like sources of heat for photothermal therapy. We first review the physics of heat generation at the nanoscale before presenting our latest results in the use of conjugated gold nanoparticles for targeted ablation of cancer tissues.