Nanohole fibers made of quartz glass permit nondestructive detection of viruses – Collaborative development by Heraeus, Harvard University, Leiden University and the IPHT in Jena
Revolutionary development for virus research: Scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) in Jena, in cooperation with others at Heraeus Quarzglas, Harvard University (in the United States) and Leiden University (in the Netherlands), have succeeded in the marker-free and nondestructive detection of viruses with dimensions smaller than 20 nanometers (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter).
01: Stefan Weidlich, physicist at Specialty Fiber Optics Research & Development at Heraeus Quarzglas, developed together with a Heraeus project team and an IPHT research team the nanohole fiber.
02+03: Nanohole fiber makes new observation methods possible
The core of the fiber contains a nanohole with a diameter of 200 nanometers that extends along the entire fiber. Test viruses swimming in water are poured into this hole, and light is fed into the fiber core. The size and movement of the viruses can be determined by means of light scattering. Source: Heraeus
They did so using an innovative nanohole fiber similar to an internet fiber and made of quartz glass from Heraeus. Fields of application range from medical diagnostics to the analysis of drinking water. This pioneering advance makes it possible to observe viruses in their natural environment, without manipulation. Initial measurements with test viruses have already been completed at Harvard and Leiden.
Viruses can be the cause of life-threatening infections such as flu or intestinal diseases. As viral diseases increase and spread, the clear detection and definite identification of adaptable pathogens is becoming increasingly important. The more scientists know about the structure of viruses and their rapid adaptation to the human immune system, the better the measures they can develop to combat them.
The problem: Viruses are 300 to 400 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and therefore nearly invisible. Virological diagnostics offer a number of elaborate options. These include scanning electron or fluorescence microscopy, methods that require preliminary steps such as dyeing or spatial fixation.
However, marking a virus with a dye changes its properties. The new nanohole method sidesteps these disadvantages, because the fiber can be integrated in standard microscopes, thereby expanding their detection limit to other nanoparticles.
Heraeus developed the nanohole fiber
Heraeus Quarzglas worked with an IPHT research team to develop the fiber. The unusual glass fiber was produced right at the Heraeus facilities in Hanau. Stefan Weidlich, physicist at Specialty Fiber Optics Research & Development at Heraeus Quarzglas, is pleased with the achievement: "Our application is distinguished by the fact that we put the viruses into quartz glass – one of the purest technical materials manufactured today.
The fiber itself conducts light almost perfectly, without scattering it. But as soon as the light encounters the virus, some of it is diffracted. This allows very rapid observations with an extremely limited background. As a result, the movement of a virus can be observed and recorded within a period of several seconds.“
For production of the fibers, Heraeus covered the entire value chain. The process begins with manufacturing the preform from high-purity quartz glass and ends with drawing the extremely sensitive nanohole fibers. In selecting and characterizing the appropriate quartz glass material and developing the special, unusual design of the nanohole fiber, the technology group applied its combined expertise in the areas of telecommunications glass fibers and specialty fibers. As the world's largest integrated quartz glass manufacturer, Heraeus has been advancing innovations in quartz glass for more than 110 years.
Nanohole fiber makes new observation methods possible
The core of the fiber contains a nanohole with a diameter of 200 nanometers that extends along the entire fiber. Test viruses swimming in water are poured into this hole, and light is fed into the fiber core. The size and movement of the viruses can be determined by means of light scattering.
The transmission of light in an optical fiber is based on a refractive index that decreases from the core to the cladding. If the light fed into the capillaries encounters a virus, part of the light is diverted from its direction of propagation; that is, it is scattered. When this scattering is observed through a microscope, the size of the virus can be determined.
For Heraeus developer Stefan Weidlich, the use of the nanohole fiber to examine viruses is just the first of many applications. "We envision other fields of application in medicine, in life sciences and in sensor technology. For example, it could be used to measure very valuable small particles in a liquid, such as pharmaceuticals, because the sample volumes required for the nanohole fibers are so minimal."
Note: The research results are summarized in a technical report at ACS Nano online: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.5b05646
Heraeus, the technology group headquartered in Hanau, Germany, is a leading international family-owned company formed in 1851. With expertise, a focus on innovations, operational excellence and an entrepreneurial leadership, we strive to continuously improve our business performance. We create high-quality solutions for our clients and strengthen their competitiveness in the long term by combining material expertise with technological know-how. Our ideas are focused on themes such as the environment, energy, health, mobility and industrial applications. Our portfolio ranges from components to coordinated material systems which are used in a wide variety of industries, including the steel, electronics, chemical, automotive and telecommunications industries. In the 2014 financial year, Heraeus generated product revenues of €3.4 bn and precious metal revenues of €12.2bn euros. With around 12,600 employees worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries in 38 countries, Heraeus holds a leading position in its global markets.
For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Jörg Wetterau
Communications & Marketing
Head of Technology Communications & Trade Press
Heraeus Holding GmbH
Phone +49 (0) 6181.35-5706
Dr. Jörg Wetterau | Heraeus Holding GmbH
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy