This discovery, by a team of researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Adelaide, and Peking University, opens the way for rapid localisation and measurement of cells within a living environment at the nanoscale, such as the changes to a single living cell in the human body in response to chemical signals.
Published in Nature Nanotechnology today, the research outlines a new approach to advanced sensing that has been facilitated by bringing together a specific form of nanocrystal, or "SuperDot™" with a special kind of optical fibre that enables light to interact with tiny (nanoscale) volumes of liquid.
"Up until now, measuring a single nanoparticle would have required placing it inside a very bulky and expensive microscope," says Professor Tanya Monro, Director of the University of Adelaide's Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) and ARC Australian Laureate Fellow. "For the first time, we've been able to detect a single nanoparticle at one end of an optical fibre from the other end. That opens up all sorts of possibilities in sensing."
"Using optical fibres we can get to many places such as inside the living human brain, next to a developing embryo, or within an artery ‒ locations that are inaccessible to conventional measurement tools.
"This advance ultimately paves the way to breakthroughs in medical treatment. For example, measuring a cell's reaction in real time to a cancer drug means doctors could tell at the time treatment is being delivered whether or not a person is responding to the therapy."
The performance of sensing at single molecular level had previously been limited by both insufficient signal strength and interference from background noise. The special optical fibre engineered at IPAS also proved useful in understanding the properties of nanoparticles. "Material scientists have faced a huge challenge in increasing the brightness of nanocrystals," says Dr. Jin, ARC Fellow at Macquarie University's Advanced Cytometry Laboratories. "Using these optical fibres, however, we have been given unprecedented insight into the light emissions. Now, thousands of emitters can be incorporated into a single SuperDot™ – creating a far brighter, and more easily detectable nanocrystal."
Under infrared illumination, these SuperDots™ selectively produce bright blue, red and infrared light, with a staggering thousand times more sensitivity than existing materials. "Neither the glass of the optical fibre nor other background biological molecules respond to infrared, so that removed the background signal issue. By exciting these SuperDots™ we were able to lower the detection limit to the ultimate level – a single nanoparticle," says Jin.
"The trans-disciplinary research from multiple institutions has paved the way for this innovative discovery," says Jin, "with the interface of experts in nanomaterials, photonics engineering, and biomolecular frontiers."
"These joint efforts will ultimately benefit patients around the world - for example, our industry partners Minomic International Ltd and Patrys Ltd are developing uses for SuperDots™ in cancer diagnostic kits, detecting incredibly low numbers of biomarkers within conditions like prostate and multiple myeloma cancer." Macquarie is now actively seeking other industrial partners with the capacity to jointly develop solutions outside of these fields.
Media contact:Dr Dayong Jin
Tanya Monro | EurekAlert!
New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research