Photothermal therapy (PTT) has attracted increasing interest and become widely used in cancer therapy owing to its noninvasiveness and low level of systemic adverse effects. However, there is an urgent need to develop biocompatible and multifunctional PTT agents with high photothermal conversion efficiency. Herein, biocompatible Cu-Ag2S/PVP nanoparticles (NPs) with strong near-infrared absorption and high photothermal conversion efficiency were successfully synthesized for high-performance photoacoustic (PA) imaging-guided PTT in vivo. The novel Cu-Ag2S/PVP NPs feature high photothermal conversion efficiency (58.2%) under 808 nm light irradiation, noticeably higher than those of most reported PTT agents. Because of their good dispersibility, Cu-Ag2S/PVP NPs passively accumulate within tumors via the enhanced permeability and retention effect, which can be confirmed by PA imaging, photothermal performance, and biodistribution in vivo. Furthermore, Cu-Ag2S/PVP NPs are thoroughly cleared through feces and urine within seven days, indicating a high level of biosafety for further potential clinical translation.

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