Cassidy, M.C., et al., In vivo magnetic resonance imaging of hyperpolarized silicon particles. Nat Nano, 2013. 8(5): p. 363-368.
Silicon-based micro- and nanoparticles have gained popularity in a wide range of biomedical applications due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability in vivo, as well as their flexible surface chemistry, which allows drug loading, functionalization and targeting. Here, we report direct in vivo imaging of hyperpolarized 29Si nuclei in silicon particles by magnetic resonance imaging. Natural physical properties of silicon provide surface electronic states for dynamic nuclear polarization, extremely long depolarization times, insensitivity to the in vivo environment or particle tumbling, and surfaces favourable for functionalization. Potential applications to gastrointestinal, intravascular and tumour perfusion imaging at subpicomolar concentrations are presented. These results demonstrate a new background-free imaging modality applicable to a range of inexpensive, readily available and biocompatible silicon particles.