Single-walled carbon nanotubes wrapped with DNA can be placed inside living cells and detect trace amounts of harmful contaminants using near infrared light, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their discovery opens the door to new types of optical sensors and biomarkers that exploit the unique properties of nanoparticles in living systems.
"This is the first nanotube-based sensor that can detect analytes at the subcellular level," said Michael Strano, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois and corresponding author of a paper to appear in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Science. "We also show for the first time that a subtle rearrangement of an adsorbed biomolecule can be directly detected by a carbon nanotube."
At the heart of the new detection system is the transition of DNA secondary structure from the native, right-handed "B" form to the alternate, left-handed "Z" form.
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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