J Am Chem Soc 2012 May 30;134(18):7628-31. Epub 2012 Apr 30.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
The synthesis and operation of a light-operated nanovalve that controls the pore openings of mesoporous silica nanoparticles containing gold nanoparticle cores is described. The nanoparticles, consisting of 20 nm gold cores inside ~150 nm mesoporous silica spheres, were synthesized using a unique one-pot method. The nanovalves consist of cucurbituril rings encircling stalks that are attached to the ~2 nm pore openings. Plasmonic heating of the gold core raises the local temperature and decreases the ring-stalk binding constant, thereby unblocking the pore and releasing the cargo molecules that were preloaded inside. Bulk heating of the suspended particles to 60 °C is required to release the cargo, but no bulk temperature change was observed in the plasmonic heating release experiment. High-intensity irradiation caused thermal damage to the silica particles, but low-intensity illumination caused a local temperature increase sufficient to operate the valves without damaging the nanoparticle containers. These light-stimulated, thermally activated, mechanized nanoparticles represent a new system with potential utility for on-command drug release.