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!
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences