Multifunctional polymer–inorganic Janus nanoparticles (JNPs) that simultaneously have therapeutic and imaging functions are highly desired in biomedical applications. Here, we fabricated spherical polydopamine/mesoporous calcium phosphate hollow JNPs (PDA/mCaP H-JNPs) via a novel and facile approach. The obtained PDA/mCaP H-JNPs were further selectively functionalized with indocyanine green (ICG) and methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol)thiol (PEG-SH) on PDA domains to achieve a superior photoacoustic (PA) imaging capability and stability, while the other mCaP sides with hollow cavities served as storage spaces and passages for the anti-cancer drug, doxorubicin (DOX). The resultant PEG–ICG–PDA/mCaP H-JNPs possess excellent biocompatibility, a competent drug loading capability, high photothermal conversion efficiency, strong near-infrared (NIR) absorbance, and pH/NIR dual-responsive properties, enabling the H-JNPs to be applied for PA imaging-guided synergistic cancer chemo-phototherapy in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the synthetic approach could be extended to prepare PDA/various mesoporous inorganic H-JNPs with spherical shapes for specific applications.

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