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A nanogel is a nanoparticle composed of a hydrogel -- a crosslinked hydrophilic polymer network. Nanogels are most often composed of synthetic polymers[1] or biopolymers which are chemically or physically crosslinked.[2] Nanogels are usually in the tens to hundreds of nanometers in diameter. Like hydrogels, the pores in nanogels can be filled with small molecules or macromolecules,[3] and their properties, such as swelling, degradation, and chemical functionality, can be controlled.[4]


Potential applications of nanogels include drug delivery agents, contrast agents for medical imaging, nanoactuators, and sensors.[5][6] [7] [8] [9]

  • Nanogels composed of polyethylenimine (PEI) have been used to deliver anti-cancer compounds into cells.[10][11]
  • Nanogels composed of dextran have been developed for imaging tumor-associated macrophages with radionuclides and targeting the bone.[12][13]
  • A fluorescent nanogel thermometer was developed to measure temperatures to within 0.5°C in living cells. The cell absorbs water when colder and squeezes the water out as its internal temperature rises; the relative quantity of water masks or exposes the fluorescence of the nanogel.[14]

Nanogels are not to be confused with Nanogel aerogel, a lightweight thermal insulator.