'Nanoprobes' For Better Medical Diagnosis


Nanobiotechnology, a specialised field of utilizing nanotechnology for biotechnology, is an emerging area within nanotech. Nanobiomaterials specifically could significantly impact the medical sector.
The US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is amongst a host of organizations exploring nanotech for various applications, including medical uses. A research group lead by Tuan Vo-Dinh has developed a novel nanoprobe that has the potential to be employed in various applications.

Commenting about the research work, Vo-Dinh says in a press statement, "The significance of this work is that we are now able to perform direct analysis of samples--even dry samples--with no preparation of the surface." Based on the light scattering technique, these nanoprobes could be utilized to detect and analyze drugs, chemicals and even explosives--at a single-molecule level. Vo-Dinh continues, "Also, the small scale of the nanoprobe demonstrates the potential for detection in nanoscale environments, such as at the intracellular level."

The nanoprobe has been developed by tapering an optical fiber at a tip measuring a minuscule 100 nm. Additionally, a very thin coating of silver nanoparticles helps to enhance the Raman scattering effect of the light. (The phenomenon of light reflection from an object when illuminated by a laser light is referred to as Raman Scattering.)The reflected light demonstrates vibration energies unique to each object (samples in this case), which can be characterised and identified. The silver nanoparticles in this technique provides for the rapid oscillations of electrons, adding to vibration energies, and thus enhancing Raman Scattering--commonly known as surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). These SERS nanoprobes produce higher electromagnetic fields enabling higher signal output--eventually resulting in accurate detection and analysis of samples.

This project has been funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research and the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. Environmental monitoring, intracellular sensing and medical diagnostics are some of the immediate application capabilities. Apart from these, ultrasensitive detection tools could be developed based on this research work.


Tuan Vo-Dinh, Principle Investigator, Life Sciences Division

Advanced Biomedical Science and Technologies Group

 Oak Ridge National Laboratory

 PO Box 2008 Oak Ridge, TN 37831

 Phone: 865-574-5845

 E-mail: vodinht@ornl.gov

URL: http://www.ornl.gov/ornlhome/complex_biological_systems.shtml

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