Conjugated polymer nanoparticles (CPNs) based on a common solar cell material (PTB7) have been prepared, and their potential in theranostic applications based on bioimaging and photosensitizing capabilities has been evaluated. The main absorption and emission bands of the prepared CPN particles both fell within the NIR-I (650-950 nm) transparency window, allowing facile and efficient implementation of our CPNs as bioimaging agents, as demonstrated in this work for A549 human lung cancer cell cultures. The prepared CPN samples were also shown to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) upon photoexcitation in the near infrared or ultraviolet spectral regions, both in aqueous solutions and in HaCaT keratinocyte cell cultures. Importantly, we show that the photosensitizing ability of our CPNs was largely determined by the nature of the stabilizing shell: coating the CPNs with a pluronic F127 copolymer led to an improvement of photoinitiated ROS production, while using PSMA instead completely quenched said process. This work therefore demonstrates that the photosensitizing capability of CPNs can be modulated via an appropriate selection of stabilizing material, and highlights the significance of this parameter for the on-demand design of theranostic probes based on CPNs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbernn-2021-01257b
JournalACS Nano
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 May 2021


  • conjugated polymer nanoparticles
  • theranostic probe
  • NIR-I
  • Reactive oxygen species (ROS)
  • Photodynamic therapy


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