Findings have implications for tracking disease, drugs at the molecular level
Researchers in the laboratory of Boston College Chemistry Professor John T. Fourkas have demonstrated that gold particles comparable in size to a molecule can be induced to emit light so strongly that it is readily possible to observe a single nanoparticle. Fourkas, in collaboration with postdoctoral researcher Richard Farrer and BC undergraduates Francis Butterfield and Vincent Chen, coaxed the particles into strong emission of visible light using a technique called multiphoton absorption induced luminescence (MAIL).
The most efficient gold nanoparticles could be observed at laser intensities lower than those commonly used for multiphoton imaging, in which specific tissues or cells -- cancer cells, for example -- are fluorescently-labeled using special stains that enable them to be studied. "One of the most exciting aspects of this technique is that it paves the way for being able to observe behavior in living tissues at the single molecule level," said Fourkas. "The fluorescent molecules commonly used in multiphoton imaging give out only a limited amount of light, ’burn out’ quickly under continuous observation, and are prone to blinking on and off.
Patricia Delaney | EurekAlert!
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