Pickering Bubbles as Dual-Modality Ultrasound and Photoacoustic Contrast Agents

Al de Leon, Peiran Wei, Filip Bordera, Dana Wegierak, Madelyn McMillen, David Yan, Christina Hemmingsen, Michael C. Kolios, Emily B. Pentzer, Agata A. Exner
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces2020
Microbubbles (MBs) stabilized by particle surfactants (i.e., Pickering bubbles) have better thermodynamic stability compared to MBs stabilized by small molecules as a result of steric hindrance against coalescence, higher diffusion resistance, and higher particle desorption energy. In addition, the use of particles to stabilize MBs that are typically used as an ultrasound (US) contrast agent can also introduce photoacoustic (PA) properties, thus enabling a highly effective dual-modality US and PA contrast agent. Here, we report the use of partially reduced and functionalized graphene oxide as the sole surfactant to stabilize perfluorocarbon gas bubbles in the preparation of a dual-modality US and PA agent, with high contrast in both imaging modes and without the need for small-molecule or polymer additives. This approach offers an increase in loading of the PA agent without destabilization and increased thickness of the MB shell compared to traditional systems, in which the focus is on adding a PA agent to existing MB formulations.

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