AsianScientist (Sep. 2, 2013) – Researchers in Australia and China have used optical fibers to illuminate nanocrystals at three orders of magnitude over quantum dots.
This discovery, published in Nature Nanotechnology by a team of researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Adelaide, and Peking University, outlines a new approach to advanced sensing by bringing together a specific form of nanocrystal, or SuperDot, with a special kind of optical fiber.
“Up until now, measuring a single nanoparticle would have required placing it inside a very bulky and expensive microscope,” says senior author Professor Tanya Monro, Director of the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing. “Using optical fibers 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.
The performance of sensing at single molecular level had previously been limited by both insufficient signal strength and interference from background noise. Under infrared illumination, the 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 fiber 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 Dr. Dayong Jin, the corresponding author on the study.
According to Jin, industry partners Minomic International Ltd and Patrys Ltd are developing uses for SuperDots in diagnostic kits for conditions such as prostate and multiple myeloma cancer.
The article can be found at: Zhao J et al. (2013) Single-nanocrystal sensitivity achieved by enhanced upconversion luminescence.
Source: University of Adelaide; Photo: Argonne National Laboratory/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.