High-Performance Hybrid Bismuth–Carbon Nanotube Based Contrast Agent for X-ray CT Imaging
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been used for a plethora of biomedical applications, including their use as delivery vehicles for drugs, imaging agents, proteins, DNA, and other materials. Here, we describe the synthesis and characterization of a new CNT-based contrast agent (CA) for X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging. The CA is a hybrid material derived from ultrashort single-walled carbon nanotubes (20–80 nm long, US-tubes) and Bi(III) oxo-salicylate clusters with four Bi(III) ions per cluster (Bi4C). The element bismuth was chosen over iodine, which is the conventional element used for CT CAs in the clinic today due to its high X-ray attenuation capability and its low toxicity, which makes bismuth a more-promising element for new CT CA design. The new CA contains 20% by weight bismuth with no detectable release of bismuth after a 48 h challenge by various biological media at 37 °C, demonstrating the presence of a strong interaction between the two components of the hybrid material. The performance of the new Bi4C@US-tubes solid material as a CT CA has been assessed using a clinical scanner and found to possess an X-ray attenuation ability of >2000 Hounsfield units (HU).
carbon nanotubes; bismuth; X-ray CT; radiocontrast agent