Radiofrequency Electric Field Heating of Conductive Media: Understanding Aqueous and Nanoparticle Heating Mechanisms and a Method for Heating Optimization
Lara, Nadia Chantal
Wilson, Lon J; Curley, Steven A
Doctor of Philosophy
Use of radiofrequency (RF) electric fields coupled with nanoparticles to enhance non-invasive hyperthermia in cancer cells and tumors sparked debate over the RF heating mechanisms of nanoparticles and the role of salts in heating. Under RF field exposure at 13.56 MHz, aqueous systems including electrolyte solutions, buffers, and blood, were shown to heat according to bulk material properties, regardless of composition. This universal aqueous heating behavior extended to suspensions of nanoparticles such as gold nanoparticles, full-length and ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotubes, and water-soluble fullerene derivatives. These suspensions displayed the same RF heating properties as saline solutions of the same conductivity, indicating that these nanoparticles themselves do not contribute to RF heating by any unique mechanism; rather, they modulate bulk conductivity, which in turn affects bulk RF heating. At 13.56 MHz, peak heating for an aqueous system occurs at a conductivity of 0.06 S/m, beyond which increases in conductivity result in reduced heating rates. Biologically relevant materials, such as blood, intra- and extracellular fluids, and most human tissues, exceed this peak heating conductivity, precluding the use of conductive materials for RF heating rate enhancement. Instead, kosmotropic or water-structuring materials, including sugars, glycols, zwitterionic molecules, and a water-soluble fullerene derivative, when added to blood or phosphate buffered saline reduced the bulk conductivity of these materials and enhanced their heating rates accordingly. A dielectric heating rate model taking into account the geometry of the sample under RF exposure was used to explain the experimental RF heating behavior of aqueous solutions and semi-aqueous materials, which generated distinct RF heating curves due to differences in bulk dielectric and physical properties.