Ultra-efficient, widely tunable gold nanoparticles-based fiducial markers for X-ray imaging

We show the development of a new class of highly efficient, biocompatible fiducial markers for X-ray imaging and radiosurgery, based on polymer shells encapsulating engineered gold nanoparticle (AuNP) suspensions. Our smart fabrication strategy enables wide tunability of the fiducial size, shape, and X-ray attenuation performance, up to record values >20 000 Hounsfield units (HU), i.e. comparable to or even higher than bulk gold. We show that the NP fiducials allow for superior imaging both in vitro and in vivo (yet requiring 2 orders of magnitude less material), with strong stability over time and the absence of classical “streak artifacts” of standard bulk fiducials. NP fiducials were probed in vivo, showing exceptional contrast efficiency, even after 2 weeks post-implant in mice.