Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Jessika Rojas


Radiosensitization is a novel targeted therapy strategy where chemical compounds are being explored to enhance the sensitivity of the tissue to the effects of ionizing radiation. Among the different radiosensitizers alternatives, nanomaterials have shown promising results by enhancing tumor injury through the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this work, Gold-supported titania (Au@TiO2) nanocomposites were synthesized through an innovative strategy using X-ray irradiation, and their potential as radiosensitizers was investigated. Radiosensitization of Au@TiO2 nanocomposites was assessed by monitoring the decomposition of Methylene Blue (MB) under X-ray irradiation in the presence of the nanomaterial. Radiosensitization of Au@TiO2 was thoroughly investigated as a function of parameters such as Au loading, TiO2 particle size, nanomaterial concentration, different irradiation voltages, and dose rates. Results showed that the presence of Au@TiO2 increases significantly the absorbed dose, thus enhancing MB decomposition. The mechanism behind Au@TiO2 radiosensitization relies on their interaction with X-rays. TiO2 produces reactive ROS whereas Au leads to the generation of photoelectrons and Auger electrons upon exposure to X-rays. These species lead to an enhanced degradation rate of the dye, a feature that could translate to cancerous cells damage with minimal side effects. The radiosensitization effect of Au@TiO2 nanocomposites was also tested in biological settings using Microcystis Aeruginosa cells. The results showed an increase in cell damage when irradiated in the presence of Au@TiO2 nanocomposites. Au@TiO2 nanocomposites were fabricated using X-ray radiolytic synthesis, a method that diverges from conventional fabrication processes and leads to negligible by-product formation, an important feature for medical and catalytic applications. In this work, Au nanoparticles are supported on TiO2 with a mean particle size of either 6.5 nm or 21.6 nm, using different ligands such as NaOH or urea, and under different absorbed doses to determine the effects of these parameters on the nanomaterials’ characteristics. Overall, Au@TiO2 synthesized by X-rays showed remarkable promise as radiosensitizers, a concept relevant to a number of medical, biological and environmental applications.


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