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December 17th, 2007
Chinese scientists may have developed a protein separation technique to rival gel electrophoresis and ion chromatography. Through joining together iron and gold nanoparticles, they have come up with a way to isolate specific proteins from a complex mixture by simply applying a magnetic field.
Individually, iron nanoparticles and gold nanoparticles possess a number of useful properties. For iron nanoparticles, these properties include magnetism, while for gold nanoparticles they include the ability to bind with sulphur-containing thiol molecules such as cysteine, which means that various biomolecules can be attached to them.
So a combined iron and gold nanoparticle possessing both sets of properties should prove extremely useful and a number of research groups have developed versions of just such a nanoparticle. But the fabrication processes for these nanoparticles tend to be fairly complicated, usually requiring some variation of coating an iron nanoparticle with gold. Now, a team of chemists and biotechnologists from Tsinghua University, China, led by Yadong Li has come up with a much simpler process, which merely involves linking together separate iron and gold nanoparticles.
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