Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

After quantum dots, now come glowing ’Cornell dots,’ for biological tagging, imaging and optical computing

20.05.2005


By surrounding fluorescent dyes with a protective silica shell, Cornell University researchers have created fluorescent nanoparticles with possible applications in displays, biological imaging, optical computing, sensors and microarrays such as DNA chips. These are all applications for which quantum dots have been used or are being considered. But the new Cornell nanoparticles offer an appealing alternative because of their greater chemical inertness and reduced cost.


CU dots bound to immunoglobin-G antibodies attach to the surface of leukemia cells, demonstrating a possible use in biological tagging. Copyright © Cornell University



"People have done superb experiments with quantum dots that were not previously possible," says Ulrich Wiesner, Cornell associate professor of materials science and engineering. "Hopefully Cornell dots will serve the same purpose and offer new possibilities." There are also some interesting physics questions about how the new dots work, he adds.

Since optical microscopes can’t resolve individual molecules, and electron microscopes can’t be used on living organisms, biologists often tag organic molecules with fluorescent dyes in order to track their movements through biological processes, such as the action of enzymes inside a living cell. While it can’t see the molecules, an optical microscope can track the bright light given off by the dye.


Quantum dots -- which have been used for the same purpose -- are tiny particles of semiconductors such as cadmium selenide that behave as if they were individual atoms: They can absorb light energy, kicking their internal electrons up to higher energy levels, then release the energy by emitting light. A quantum dot fluoresces much more brightly than a dye molecule, making it a desirable marker.

Cornell dots, also known as CU dots, are nanoparticles consisting of a core about 2.2 nanometers (nm) in diameter containing several dye molecules, surrounded by a protective silica shell, making the entire particle about 25 nm in diameter. The researchers call this a "core-shell architecture." (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, about three times the diameter of a silicon atom.)

Like quantum dots, CU dots are many times brighter (20-30 times) than single dye molecules in solution and resist "photobleaching," a process by which dyes in solution rapidly lose their fluorescence. CU dots can be made with a wide variety of dyes, producing a large assortment of colors.

The manufacture of CU dots and early experiments with them are described in a paper, "Bright and Stable Core-Shell Fluorescent Silica Nanoparticles," in the journal Nano Letters (Vol. 5 No. 1) by Wiesner and his Cornell colleagues Hooisweng Ow, Daniel R. Larson, Mamta Srivastava, Barbara A. Baird and Watt W. Webb .

Unlike quantum dots, CU dots are mostly chemically inert. The silica shell is silicon dioxide -- essentially glass. For use as biological markers, quantum dots are encased in a polymer shell -- a process that adds to their already high manufacturing cost. Quantum dots also contain heavy metals like cadmium that can leach through the polymer shell and disrupt the chemistry being observed.

However, Wiesner says, "Silica is benign, cheap and easy to attach, and it is totally compatible with silicon manufacturing technology. That opens enormous possibilities in the life sciences and in information technology."

The Cornell researchers tested the use of CU dots as biological markers by attaching an antibody, immunoglobin E (IgE), and observing how this combination attached to cell receptors on leukemia mast cells.

The dots also offer an intriguing physics question: Why do they fluoresce so brightly? In effect, the whole is brighter than the sum of its parts. "We have this enormous brightness, and we don’t know exactly where it’s coming from," Wiesner says. Several explanations have been offered. One is that the silicon shell protects the dye molecules from the solvent. A second is that dye molecules floating free can lose energy by actions other than emitting photons, but in the packed core of the particle those other actions are diminished.

The dots were created by Ow, then Wiesner’s graduate student. Webb, the S.B. Eckert Professor in Engineering, and Larson, a graduate student in applied and engineering physics now at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied their photophysical properties. Baird, director of the Cornell Nanobiotechnology Center, and Srivastava, a postdoctoral researcher, studied the dots as labels on living cells.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the state of New York and Phillip Morris USA. Quantum Dot Corp. supplied quantum dots used for comparison.

Bill Steele | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA laser communications to provide Orion faster connections
30.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pinball at the atomic level
30.03.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

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...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

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...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>