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!
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy