Toward carbon-nanotube-based theranostic agents for microwave detection and treatment of breast cancer: enhanced dielectric and heating response of tissue-mimicking materials

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2010 Aug;57(8):1831-4. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2010.2042597. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


The experimental results reported in this paper suggest that single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have the potential to enhance dielectric contrast between malignant and normal tissue for microwave detection of breast cancer and facilitate selective heating of malignant tissue for microwave hyperthermia treatment of breast cancer. In this study, we constructed tissue-mimicking materials with varying concentrations of SWCNTs and characterized their dielectric properties and heating response. At SWCNT concentrations of less than 0.5% by weight, we observed significant increases in the relative permittivity and effective conductivity. In microwave heating experiments, we observed significantly greater temperature increases in mixtures containing SWCNTs. These temperature increases scaled linearly with the effective conductivity of the mixtures. This work is a first step towards the development of functionalized, tumor-targeting SWCNTs as theranostic (integrated therapeutic and diagnostic) agents for microwave breast cancer detection and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Contrast Media / therapeutic use
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Microwaves*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Temperature


  • Contrast Media
  • Nanotubes, Carbon