Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 2;13(1):27. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-27111-z.
Graphene based nanomaterials are explored in the field of cancer bioimaging and biomedical science and engineering. The luminescent nanostructures with a low toxicity and high photostability can be used as probes in bioimaging applications. This work is aimed to prepare graphene/folic acid-zinc oxide (GN/FA-ZnO) nanocomposite with dual-mode emissions (down-conversion and up-conversion) to be used in cancer bioimaging. The dual mode emissions offer long luminescence lifetime, multicolor emissions detected by the naked eyes after excitation and narrow band absorption and emission spectra. ZnO nanospheres and nanorods structures were prepared using co-precipitation technique and were conjugated with FA to separate the bulk graphite layers electrostatically into GN. The optical, morphological, surface charge and structural properties of the prepared nanostructures were investigated and discussed using different characterization techniques such as UV-visible spectroscopy, photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscope (SEM), high resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM), Zeta potential, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR). GN/FA-ZnO nanocomposites were injected into Swiss albino mice implanted with Ehrlich Tumor and the bioimaging was investigated using photon imager and digital camera. The results showed clear fluorescence and confirmed that the green design of GN/FA-ZnO nanocomposite with targeting behavior was capable of selective bioimaging of the tumor. This study presented a novel dual mode emission nanocomposite for tumor targeting and is a promising strategy for the fabrication of a new design of spectral encoding.