Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Twinkle, twinkle, quantum dot -- new particles can change colors and tag molecules

Researchers at Ohio State University have invented fluorescent nano-particles that change color to tag molecules under the microscope. This series of photos shows a particle changing from red to green -- and, at the 89-second mark, to yellow -- over the course of two minutes.

Credit: Image by Gang Ruan, courtesy of Ohio State University.
Researchers at Ohio State University have invented fluorescent nano-particles that change color to tag molecules under the microscope. This series of photos shows a particle changing from red to green -- and, at the 89-second mark, to yellow -- over the course of two minutes.

Credit: Image by Gang Ruan, courtesy of Ohio State University.

Abstract:
Engineers at Ohio State University have invented a new kind of nano-particle that shines in different colors to tag molecules in biomedical tests.

Twinkle, twinkle, quantum dot -- new particles can change colors and tag molecules

Columbus, OH | Posted on March 28th, 2011

These tiny plastic nano-particles are stuffed with even tinier bits of electronics called quantum dots. Like little traffic lights, the particles glow brightly in red, yellow, or green, so researchers can easily track molecules under a microscope.

This is the first time anyone has created fluorescent nano-particles that can change colors continuously.

Jessica Winter, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and biomedical engineering, and research scientist Gang Ruan describe their patent-pending technology in the online edition of the journal Nano Letters.

Researchers routinely tag molecules with fluorescent materials in order to see them under the microscope. Unlike the more common fluorescent molecules, quantum dots shine very brightly, and could illuminate chemical reactions especially well, allowing researchers to see the inner workings of living cells.

A bottleneck to combating major diseases like cancer is the lack of molecular or cellular-level understanding of biological processes, the engineers explained.

"These new nanoparticles could be a great addition to the arsenal of biomedical engineers who are trying to find the roots of diseases," Ruan said.

"We can tailor these particles to tag particular molecules, and use the colors to track processes that we wouldn't otherwise be able to," he continued. "Also, this work could be groundbreaking for the field of nanotechnology as a whole, because it solves two seemingly irreconcilable problems with using quantum dots."

Quantum dots are pieces of semiconductor that measure only a few nanometers, or billionths of a meter, across. They are not visible to the naked eye, but when light shines on them, they absorb energy and begin to glow. That's what makes them good tags for molecules.

Due to quantum mechanical effects, quantum dots "twinkle" - they blink on and off at random moments. When many dots come together, however, their random blinking is less noticeable. So, large clusters of quantum dots appear to glow with a steady light.

Blinking has been a problem for researchers, because it breaks up the trajectory of a moving particle or tagged molecule that they are trying to follow. Yet, blinking is also beneficial, because when dots come together and the blinking disappears, researchers know for certain that tagged molecules have aggregated.

"Blinking is good and bad," Ruan explained. "But one day we realized that we could use the 'good' and avoid the 'bad' at the same time, by grouping a few quantum dots of different colors together inside a micelle."

A micelle is a nano-sized spherical container, and while micelles are useful for laboratory experiments, they are easily found in household detergents - soap forms micelles that capture oils in water. Ruan created micelles using polymers, with different combinations of red and green quantum dots inside them.

In tests, he confirmed that the micelles appeared to glow steadily. Those stuffed with only red quantum dots glowed red, and those stuffed with green glowed green. But those he stuffed with red and green dots alternated from red to green to yellow.

The color change happens when one or another dot blinks inside the micelle. When a red dot blinks off and the green blinks on, the micelle glows green. When the green blinks off and the red blinks on, the micelle glows red. If both are lit up, the micelle glows yellow.

The yellow color is due to our eyes' perception of light. The process is the same as when a red pixel and green pixel appear close together on a television or computer screen: our eyes see yellow.

Nobody can control when color changes happen inside individual micelles. But because the particles glow continuously, researchers can use them to track tagged molecules continuously. They can also monitor color changes to detect when molecules come together.

Winter and Ruan said that the particles could also be used in fluid mechanics research - specifically, micro-fluidics. Researchers who are developing tiny medical devices with fluid separation channels could use quantum dots to follow the fluid's path.

The same Ohio State research team is also developing magnetic particles to enhance medical imaging of cancer, and it may be possible to combine magnetism with the quantum dot technology for different kinds of imaging. But before the particles would be safe to use in the body, they would have to be made of biocompatible materials. Carbon-based nanomaterials are one possible option.

In the meantime, Winter and Ruan are going to continue developing the color-changing quantum dot particles for studies of cells and molecules under the microscope. They are also going to explore what happens when quantum dots of another color - for instance, blue - are added to the mix.

The university will look to license the technology for industry, and Winter and Ruan have created a Web site for the technologies they are developing: nanoforneuro.com.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, an endowment from the William G. Lowrie family to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the Center for Emergent Materials at Ohio State.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jessica Winter


Gang Ruan


Written by
Pam Frost Gorder
(614) 292-9475

Copyright © Ohio State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Imaging

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

Clues to inner atomic life from subtle light-emission shifts: Hyperfine structure of light absorption by short-lived cadmium atom isotopes reveals characteristics of the nucleus that matter for high precision detection methods July 3rd, 2015

NIST ‘How-To’ Website Documents Procedures for Nano-EHS Research and Testing July 1st, 2015

Ultra-stable JILA microscopy technique tracks tiny objects for hours July 1st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

New technology using silver may hold key to electronics advances July 2nd, 2015

NIST Group Maps Distribution of Carbon Nanotubes in Composite Materials July 2nd, 2015

Ultra-stable JILA microscopy technique tracks tiny objects for hours July 1st, 2015

Discoveries

Fundamental observation of spin-controlled electrical conduction in metals: Ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy yields direct insight into the building block of modern magnetic memories July 6th, 2015

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Announcements

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Pioneering Southampton scientist awarded prestigious physics medal July 3rd, 2015

Discovery of nanotubes offers new clues about cell-to-cell communication July 2nd, 2015

World’s 1st Full-Color, Flexible, Skin-Like Display Developed at UCF June 24th, 2015

Physicists fine-tune control of agile exotic materials: Tunable hybrid polaritons realized with graphene layer on hexagonal boron nitride June 24th, 2015

Quantum Dots/Rods

Producing spin-entangled electrons July 2nd, 2015

Philips Introduces Quantum Dot TV with Color IQ™ Technology from QD Vision: Manufacturer is first to offer quantum dot displays for both TVs and monitors June 30th, 2015

Biomanufacturing of CdS quantum dots: A bacterial method for the low-cost, environmentally-friendly synthesis of aqueous soluble quantum dot nanocrystals June 24th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Model, Design Optical Switches June 13th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project